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Thread: JAPANESE Culture & Language Help

  1. #31
    celipsis
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fly to Dawn
    A Japanese!pub would probably be a Nomiya - they are almost the equivalent of a British pub; somewhere you would go for a beer after work, or watch baseball on weekends. Mostly people sit down at counters or tables, though, as opposed to standing around. Nomiyas serve snacks such as Yakitori together with beer (maybe they used to serve Japanese Sake? I'm not sure, I'm too young to know, hee!), and the customers are mostly men coming home from work...I've Googled Nomiya (in Japanese), as pics might give you a better idea!
    Quote Originally Posted by Inverarity
    Drinking is a very social activity in Japan,
    All right, so in these Nomiyas I take it the atmosphere would be pretty social as well. If there was someone at a Nomiya who was being very antisocial and/or reserved, would the Japanese find it strange or even offensive?

    Oh and what is the legal drinking age in Japan? I think its 20 but I might be wrong. Also, when Japanese teenagers become old enough to drink, will they often go out and drink (a lot) to celebrate like a lot of American teens do? Thanks.

  2. #32
    Inverarity
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    Quote Originally Posted by celipsis
    All right, so in these Nomiyas I take it the atmosphere would be pretty social as well. If there was someone at a Nomiya who was being very antisocial and/or reserved, would the Japanese find it strange or even offensive?
    Reserved, not necessarily. There's nothing wrong with being reserved. But you're still expected to drink with the rest. Japanese would tend to be pretty suspicious of anyone drinking alone -- it's antisocial and weird. And if you come with a group, but sit in a corner and don't talk to anyone, you're definitely going to be considered a very strange, rude person.

    Oh and what is the legal drinking age in Japan? I think its 20 but I might be wrong. Also, when Japanese teenagers become old enough to drink, will they often go out and drink (a lot) to celebrate like a lot of American teens do? Thanks.
    Technically, it's 20, but just like in the U.S., underage drinking is common, especially in college. Drinking is part of Japanese culture, and there isn't such a puritanical attitude towards it (which also means that while underage drinking isn't exactly approved of, it's also not considered such a moral hazard), so I don't think Japanese kids are as likely to go out and celebrate being able to drink "legally."

  3. #33
    celipsis
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    All right, so I'm back with another question, this time about Japanese suffixes. I've heard that the title okyaku-sama is used in business or sales settings to refer to customers. Can the suffix sama be attached to names as well? (Malfoy-sama, for example?) What would hotel staff, such as an employee who ran the front desk, use to refer to guests? I was thinking it would be something along the lines of sama, but maybe I'm wrong. Thank you!

    celipsis

  4. #34
    Inverarity
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    Quote Originally Posted by celipsis
    All right, so I'm back with another question, this time about Japanese suffixes. I've heard that the title okyaku-sama is used in business or sales settings to refer to customers. Can the suffix sama be attached to names as well? (Malfoy-sama, for example?) What would hotel staff, such as an employee who ran the front desk, use to refer to guests? I was thinking it would be something along the lines of sama, but maybe I'm wrong. Thank you!
    "-sama" is an honorific used to address someone of superior status. It's very formal. Yes, it's also appended to names. You use it when addressing your boss, or a feudal lord (or a customer).

    Yes, a Japanese person would address Malfoy as "Malfoy-sama" if Malfoy is considered to be of much higher status. A Japanese Death Eater would most certainly address Voldemort as "Voldemort-sama."

  5. #35
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    I'm setting up a Japanese school where three first-year students are assigned to a seventh-year to follow around a learn from. I know they have this system of juniors and seniors in ordinary Japanese schools.

    I'm just trying to figure out how the younger children would adress they older children. The older student would probably just call the younger students by name, but I'm sure the old students would expect some kind of title for themselves.

    Does anyone know the world for that senior-junior system in Japan? What are the older students normally call? Although, in Memoirs of a Geisha, old students were adressed as someone's big brother or big sister: onii-san and onee-san

    Which do you think would be better? But remember, this is an old school, so they may not be up to date on some of the more modern terms.

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  6. #36
    Inverarity
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    Sempai ("Senior student") is how younger students usually address an older student.

    Oni-san and one-san are generally only used with older family members and friends.

  7. #37
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    Thanks for the translation!

    Oni-san and one-san are generally only used with older family members and friends.
    Although, in Japan, it is also used as a title for any older peer that a student may respect. In Memoirs of a Geisha, the students would refer to anyone with a days senority as onee-san. But I still may go either way. I still need to do some pondering.

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  8. #38
    Inverarity
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    Quote Originally Posted by OliveOil_Med
    Although, in Japan, it is also used as a title for any older peer that a student may respect. In Memoirs of a Geisha, the students would refer to anyone with a days senority as onee-san. But I still may go either way. I still need to do some pondering.
    Don't take one book as a definitive statement about a culture. Memoirs of a Geisha was written about a particular time and place and subculture -- traditions and language usage among apprentice geishas in the early 20th century aren't going to be the same as in a modern Japanese school (even a wizarding school that might be somewhat more traditional).

  9. #39
    Pius
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    While oniisan and oneesan literally mean "older brother" and "older sister," it is not uncommon in Japan to use these familial terms when addressing others, though it is perhaps more usual with terms like obasan "aunt", ojisan "uncle", obaasan "grandmother", or ojiisan "grandfather," which can be used as the sort of "sir" or "ma'am" one uses when addressing strangers. Regardless, oniisan and oneesan can be used with older people (though not old enough to use obasan or ojisan) with whom one feels a connection, instead of the usual suffixes.

    However, sempai is the usual title one uses for those who have more seniority in an area than oneself, and is especially expected in a school environment with clear class divisions. Remember also that sempai may be used alone in addressing people, or suffixed to a name: an example, Snape may call Lucius Malfoy simply "sempai" or "Malfoy-sempai." Keep in mind though that sempai would be used by any first year towards anyone older than themselves, regardless of whether or not they were an assigned mentor.

    An interesting compromise, then, might be that the assigned mentors you're talking about would be assigned oniisan or oneesan, whereas all other older students, with whom one didn't have that special relationship, would simply be one's sempai.

    As a side note, juniors are kohai, but the word is not used in address.

    And, on another note, you may want to ask yourself whether or not you even want to put in Japanese titles, since I assume the rest of it will be written in English. As a reader of a lot of anime fanfiction, I personally tend to prefer stories that find English alternatives to express the power relationships which in Japanese are expressed by sempai/kohai speech markers. I find it keeps the continuity of the language better, and makes the world more believable, since people in real life don't speak in more than one language unless there's a reason.

    PS: the long markers are important. Oni is "ogre," so onisan would be something like "Mr. Troll," whereas oniisan is older brother. one is "mountain ridge" so onesan really doesn't mean anything.

    As a beginning student of Japanese, I only have a little credibility on the topic, but I'd thought I'd throw in my two cents.

  10. #40
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    I'm not studying Japanese or anything (I wish ) however I noticed that at the front of some published mangas they have written down a few explanations on honorifics as they use them throughout the manga. So I thought I'd note down a few with a couple of simplified explanations. Some have been mentioned in other posts but I found a couple that weren't.

    -san the most common honorific that can be used where politeness needs to be shown and used as an equivalent to Mr., Miss. etc.
    -sama a more respectful version of -san for someone higher up.
    -kun a term to show familiarity towards boys and amongnst themselves.
    -chan this is used to show familiarity among girls mostly but can be used among lovers or small boys as it's "cute"
    -Sempai/Sempai used to adress someone older. Commonly used in schools (as mentioned in prior posts.
    -Kohai the opposite of -sempai. used in schools to adress younger students.
    -Sensai used as a title for teachers/professors
    -[blank] this is a very imporant difference between the English nd Japanese language. If no honorific is used it implies that the people are both very famailiar with each other usually only used amongst family, spouses and close friends. The permission to call someone like this is called 'yobisute' and it's an honour to achive but if it's used without permission, it can be very rude.

    I think the last point is quite interesting to consider if you go through with using the honorifics as it would show a lot about the culture and perhaps shock the students from other schools that wouldn't know about this.

    I got these honorifics from a book so I hope I've summarised it almost sufficiently. There were a couple more but I thought those would be the most relevant.

    On another note on honorifics, I think it's quite good that you're trying to keep culture from Japan but I'd keep in mind that some of your readers won't have any idea what the honorifics are meant to show and mean. Maybe there's a way that you can subtly explain that they use them...? I'm not sure but some people might find reading them quite confusing.

    Hope that helped

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