With lessons 1-16 of the Pimsleur Japanese I course we should be able to understand most of the following clips from ‘Shigatsu wa kimi no uso” (Your lie in April).
The honorific that we use when addressing a person says what we think of our relationship with this person. In the clip below, from ‘Your lie in April’ – Ep. 18, a boy addresses the teacher of a girl using the teacher’s name, Arima Kousei, without using the honorific ‘sensei’ (teacher), and the girl goes into a rage at the insult.
The two default honorifics are ‘sama’ and ‘san’, both gender-neutral, with their respective casual forms that convey affection:
chan, kun (君)
‘chan’ is most commonly used for females, but it can be used for males, e.g., Japanese people affectionally refer to Arnold Schwarzenegger as ‘shuwa-chan’. On the other hand, ‘kun’ is most commonly used for males, but it can be used for females.
There are many other ways to refer to someone:
- [last name] ‘dono’ means ‘lord’ so it is more polite than ‘sama’; it is used specially in business and official letters
- [last name] ‘sensei’ (先生, せんせい) means ‘born before’; it is the respectful way to address teachers and physicians
- [last name] ‘senpai’ is someone ‘before’ (先-, sen-) of us, similar to a mentor, e.g., a student in a higher grade, or a co-worker with more seniority
- [last name] ‘kouhai’ is someone ‘after’ (後-, kou-) us, similar to a protégé, e.g., a student in a lower grade, or a co-worker with less seniority
- [last name] – casual, used with close friends
- [first name] – very intimate, used by family and childhood friends
Another way to address someone is with a nickname. The first go-to suffixes that females use to address other people, when -chan or -kun are not appealing enough, are -chin, -cchi, and -rin, which are similar to diminutives that we can apply to either the first or last name.
There are many other honorifics. For example, in ‘My Hero Academy’, All-Might addresses his teen-age students as ‘shounen’ and ‘shoujo’ (Young man, Young woman), e.g., ‘Midoriya shounen’; this is similar to Capt. Picard, in the Star Trek series, addressing Wesley as ‘Young Wesley Crusher’.
In general, been able to call someone with a more intimate honorific (or without one) is a sign of the evolution and closeness of the relationship. Still, regardless of the closeness, often an honorific remains, not as a sign of distance, but of respect; for example, I had an American acquaintance who had been married to a Japanese lady for about 10-12 years, who addressed her (at least in public) as ‘Miki-san’.
mata ashita, moshi-moshi Ep.1
Then… see you tomorrow.
hum… see ya. hello? (on the phone)
sore-dewa. mata ashita.
aa. mata ashita. moshi-moshi?
ja. mata ashita.
aa. mata. moshi-moshi?
- In this context, ‘sore-dewa’, ‘sore-ja’, ‘dewa’, and ‘ja’ are all interchangeable.
ja, mata, ashita Ep.6
Eng: See ya…
hum… See you tomorrow
hum… again tomorrow
hai. mata ashita.
はい。 また あした。
un… mata ashita.
うん… また あした。
kore, ga, no Ep.8
Eng: This is Aiza’s Chopin.
lit: This! This is Aiza’s Chopin.
kore ga aiza kun no shopan desu.
これが あいざ くんの ショパン です。
kore ga aiza no shopan.
これが あいざの ショパン。
- the ‘ga’ particle emphasizes what comes before it, while ‘wa’ emphasizes what comes after it.
watashi/boku/ore, wo, te form Ep.13
Eng: look at me! (4 times)
watashi wo mite kudasai (4 times)
わたしを 見て ください。
ore wo miro!
watashi wo miro!
watashi wo miro!
boku wo miro!
- ‘boku’ and ‘ore’ are casual forms of ‘watashi’; ‘boku’ has a connotation of being respectful, while ‘ore’ has one being manly, tough, and confident.
- ‘mite’ is the imperative of ‘miru’ (to look); ‘miro’ is used when you are angry
- we mark with を the direct objects of verbs, and with が the direct objects of adjectives.
- the particle を is most often pronounced ‘o’, in spite that it is written as ‘wo’.
wa, ni, arimasen Ep.16
Eng: My bag is not at school
lit: The bag? It does not exist at the school
kaban wa gakkou ni arimasen.
カバンは 学校に ありません。
kaban, gakkou ni nai
- Kawori is apologizing so she speaks formally to Kousei
- ‘kaban’ is bag or briefcase
- ‘gakkou’ is school
desu/da, watashi/boku Ep.16
Eng: I’m a fool.
Ah, it’s snow.
lit: Me? I’m a fool.
Ah, it’s snow!
watashi wa baka desu. aa, yuki desu!
わたしは ばかです。ああ、ゆき です。
boku wa baka da. aa, yuki da!
ぼくは ばかだ。ああ、ゆき だ。
- ‘boku’ is a casual form of ‘watashi’
- ‘kaba’ is ‘fool’, or ‘idiot’
- ‘da’ is the casual form of ‘desu’
- ‘yuki’ is ‘snow’