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Japanese At Meeting

This chapter gives information on what and how to speak in Japanese at meeting.

The first word you say when introducing yourself to someone for the first time is hajimemashite (hah-jee-meh-mah-shee-teh). This word literally means "beginning," and it clarifies the fact that you're meeting the person for the first time. Next, say your name and then say yoroshiku onegaishimasu (yoh-roh-shee-koo oh-neh-gah-ee-she-mah-soo). Yoroshiku is a set phrase that shows your modest attitude and asks the other person to be friendly. No English translation exists for it.

The response to yoroshiku onegaishimasu is usually kochirakoso yoroshiku onegaishimasu (koh-chee-rah-koh-soh yoh-roh-shee-koo oh-neh-gah-ee-she-mah-soo), meaning "It's I who should say that." So if you beg someone to be friendly, they beg you right back. After all that begging, you're friends!

Asking people their names

As in English, telling someone your namae (nah-mah-eh; name) in Japanese is more or less a cue for that person to tell you his or her name. If it doesn't turn out that way, you can ask Shitsurei desu ga, o-namae wa (shee-tsoo-rehh deh-soo gah, oh-nah-mah-eh wah; I may be rude, but what's your name?).

Sometimes, using o- is obligatory regardless of whether you're talking about yourself or about others. For example, the word for money is kane (kah-neh), but people almost always call it okane (oh-kah-neh).

Addressing friends and strangers

In English, you address others by their first names ("Hi, Robert!"), by their nicknames ("Hey, Bobby!"), by their positions ("Excuse me, professor"), or by their family names and appropriate titles ("Hello, Mr. Wright"), depending on your relationship.

In Japanese society, addressing people is something you don't want to mess up. When you meet someone new at work and you know the person's occupational title, such as company president, professor, or division manager, use the title along with his or her family name - for example, Sumisu-shacho (soo-mee-soo-shah-chohh; President Smith). Following are some examples of occupational titles:

If you don't know the person's occupational title, the safest way to address him or her is to use his or her family name plus the respectful title -san (sahn), as in - Sumisu-san (soo-mee-soo-sahn; Ms. Smith). -Sama (sah-mah) is even more polite, but it's too formal and businesslike for most social situations.

Other titles include -chan (chahn) and -kun (koon), but they must be used carefully. Table below shows you which titles are appropriate for friends and acquaintances, with examples of various ways to address Robert and Susan Smith.

-chan(chahn)For children, used after a boy's or girl's given name.Suzan-chan (sooo-zahn-chahn), Robato-chan (roh-bahh-toh-chahn)
-kun (koon)Used after a boy's given name Also used after a subordinate's family name, regardless of gender.Robato-kun (roh-bahh-toh-koon) Sumisu-kun(soo-mee-soo-koon)
-sama(sah-mah)Used after a superior's or customer's name regardless of gender.Also used when addressing letters (Dear...)Sumisu-sama (soo-mee-soo-sah-mah),Suzan-sama (sooo-zahn-sah-mah), Robato Sumisu-sama (roh-bahh-toh soo-mee-soo-sah-mah)
-san (sahn)The most common title used, especially when the person's relationship to you is unclear. Sumisu-san (soo-mee-soo-sahn), Suzan-san (sooo-zahn-sahn), Robato Sumisu-san (roh-bahh-toh soo-mee-soo-sahn)

When introducing themselves, the Japanese give their family name first and given name second. Most Japanese people realize that Western names aren't in the same order, and they don't expect you to reverse the order of your own name to match the pattern of their names.

If you use the Japanese word for "you" - anata (ah-nah-tah) - you'll sound boastful or rude. Japanese uses names or titles where English uses "you." Instead of "you," you can use age- and gender-sensitive terms when addressing strangers in friendly contexts. For example, ojisan (oh-jee-sahn) literally means "uncle," but you can use it to address any unfamiliar middle-aged man. The following list shows other general terms you can use to address strangers:

Words to Know
Hajimemashite.hah-jee-meh-mah-shee-tehHow do you do?
Yoroshiku.yoh-roh-shee-kooPleased to meet you.
Onamae wa.oh-nah-mah-eh wahWhat's your name?
Watashi no namae wa_______desu.wah-tah-shee noh nah-mah-eh wah_______deh-spoMy name is_______

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