Archive for January 22, 2011

Too much respectful way might let someone cast regretful eyes

January 22, 2011 13 comments

It is said that Japanese are able to know or show their positions by changing ways to call someone. My friend who is interested in Japan and Japanese cultures just gave me an interesting topic about which words to add when you call someone in Japanese. I think it become a long article. This time, I’ll show you an example that you might feel strange and find it difficult to understand.

Do you know the words you should add at the end of someone’s name in Japanese? Like the word, ‘Sir’, we have several words, –san, –kun, –chan, etc. in order to show their respect, affections, or familiarity.

This is a part of my family tree. You can see red and blue arrows. At first, please take a look at red arrows.

My younger sister has her husband. He is so kind and loves my sister. I am younger than him, but he has called me oni-san since he got married to her(a red arrow from her husband to me). It might sound strange to you. On the other hand, I’ve called him by his family name, like ‘Weasley-san'(another red arrow from me to her husband). To me, he is my younger brother-in-law, althouth he’s older than me. There are other ways to call instead of oni-san, which are ni-san, aniki, oni-, etc..

Incidentally, when it comes to the pronunciation, there’s no defference between ‘older blood brother’ in Japanese and ‘older brother-in-law’ in Japanese, oni-san. However, you can see the defference when the two words are written.

This is an ‘older blood brother'(We have another way to write, but this is the most common way, I think).

This is an ‘older brother-in-law’.

The first kanji in the older brother-in-law is like a prefix. It contains a meaning ‘in-law’. When you write oto-san(father-in-law) and oka-san(mother-in-law) in kanji, you need to add this word. The pronunciations of oto-san(your father and your father-in-law) and oka-san(your mother and your mother-in-law) are the same as well.

Second, please look at the blue arrows. My sister’s husband has his younger sister. She is single and older than me. What do you think how I needed to call my sister’s husband if I got married to his younger sister?

I would say, oni-san(older brother-in-law). I would call him oni-san, and he would call me oni-san if we were under such a situation. It won’t happen, though, it should be strange to you.
※However, things have been changing these days. Some people would call his/her brother/sister-in-law by his/her first name with –kun, –san, etc.

I will write which is the most formal way between –san, –kun, –sama, and –chan. I don’t know when I will finish it, though. lol

Categories: Japanese Culture
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