Home > Japanese Culture > Too much respectful way might let someone cast regretful eyes

Too much respectful way might let someone cast regretful eyes

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.
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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).
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This is an ‘older brother-in-law’.
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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

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Categories: Japanese Culture
  1. January 24, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Confusing. Different. Cool. 🙂

    • honeypotter
      January 25, 2011 at 4:47 am

      Hello, girlgeum! 🙂

      Yes. It’s so complicated for non-native Japanese. 😦 I hope I would be able to introduce a tidbit of information like this. 😀 Oh, girlgeum, if you have any question regarding Japanese cultures, please tell me. I’ll write them as much as I can. 🙂

  2. January 27, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Someone and I had a conversation recently about how emotionless Japanese people are. She was on a train in Japan a few years ago and there was a “fight” on the train. The reactions of the passengers were flat.

    Sometimes when I watch the news or shows, it feels like the emotions are restrain.

    • honeypotter
      January 27, 2011 at 4:16 pm

      Hi, girlgeum! 🙂

      Ummm, actually, Japanese probably have been becoming apathetic, especially in public.

      • January 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm

        Yes! I prefer more or at least some emotion. Every one has their own personality, so I guess I’ll just bud out.

        You sound busy on your twitter account.

        Have a nice weekend. 🙂

  3. honeypotter
    January 29, 2011 at 3:37 am

    Hi, girlgeum! 🙂 How’s your weekend?

    Oh, no, no, no, not busy. Twitter is just the only one which I am able to read and leave my comments when I’m outside. I’m not able to read this blog with my cell phone. Hey, you have to hear this. I’m going to obtain iPad. 🙂

    Girlgeum, as you know, I’m rather emotional. 🙂

  4. February 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Technology’s not slowing down. Good or bad?

  5. February 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    PS Slept weekend past. Ah, refreshing. 😆

    • honeypotter
      February 2, 2011 at 4:28 am

      Technology advance…sometimes it might make people lose their focus. 😦

      Oh, at least you relaxed on the weekend. Good. 🙂 I took an English test last Sunday. I believe I would be able to take a rest this weekend.(really?)

  6. February 2, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Really? Not sure huh?

    You have believe in your sentence and then really with a question mark at the end. You should have said think. Why? Think carries a lack of feeling sure like what your sentence was trying to bring across. Believe, well to me, is being absolutely sure about something.

    • honeypotter
      February 2, 2011 at 6:30 pm

      I see. I should have written ‘I think I would…’, shouldn’t I? Okay, let me take that back. I hope I would be able to take a rest… 🙂 Something I should tweak might be waiting for me this weekend. 😦

  7. February 3, 2011 at 1:24 pm

    By your test results, you get to find out how good or bad you are in English right? It also helps you to see your strong and weak points?

    4 in the morning. Not goodnight but good morning. Good morning H.P. 🙂

    • honeypotter
      February 4, 2011 at 5:46 pm

      Yes. The results of test can show me something. 🙂

      4 o’clock for going to bed is not good. I think I have to change my life style. 😦

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