[Japan] manners...

Discussion in 'Off Topic Area' started by ember, May 8, 2007.

  1. ember

    ember Valued Member

    So what is the -san suffix used with, the family name or the given name?
  2. Chimpcheng

    Chimpcheng Yup... Giant cow head... Supporter

    As far as I am aware, in common translation san is the same as “Mr” or “Mrs” and similar titles like that. For example Miyagi-san would be Mr Miyagi. It’s similar to the Chinese Seen-Sang as in Wong Seen-Sang or Mr. Wong.

    Oh yes, a Chinese reference in the Japanese section. Let the cross cultural exchange begin... :)
  3. ironknuckles

    ironknuckles contemplating....

    Yeh pretty much what chimpcheng jsut said. San is normally used as a sign of repsect or authority and in most cases comes after a persons name eg you can't say sensei san you have to say the teacher's name then san eg yamada san and like in chinese the family name is normally used first. However it is weird for someone to introduce themselves as .......san. Then you have other suffixs' for friends or younger people such as chan or kun.
  4. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Valued Member

    Altho' it is common to interpret "-san" to be the equivalent of "Mr" or "Mrs", like ironknuckles says, it is a more general sign of respect.

    It is not normally used in conjunction with another title but it can be used with a non-surname if you wish (especially in a circumstance like the Net where you do not necessarily know a persons surname) e.g. if I wished to be Nihon-style polite in the forum I would use Victoria San.
  5. Mr Punch

    Mr Punch Homicidal puppet

    It's not as restrictive as people have seemed to indicate.

    It's also used commonly with given names.

    And other titles:


    kyakusan (客さん): customer (rather than just 'kyaku')
    teninsan (店員さん): shopkeeper
    seitosan (生徒さん): student


    and for children

    zousan (象さん): Mr Elephant!

    As is -sama, -kun, -chan.
  6. Chimpcheng

    Chimpcheng Yup... Giant cow head... Supporter

    Dude, you missed a beat there, you could have done one for Mr Punch. :D
  7. ember

    ember Valued Member

    Well, I have a telephone conference tonight with some Japanese colleagues, and I'm trying to better understand which name to use.
  8. Moosey

    Moosey invariably, a moose Supporter

    If in doubt, stick to the family name plus san - might as well make sure to be polite if you're doing business.

    I'm sure you know this already, but also don't refer to yourself as "-san".

    So it would be, say, "Konbanwa, Ember desu" rather than "Konbanwa, Ember-san desu"
  9. hanakuso

    hanakuso Banned Banned

    Just call everyone "Dude" and you can't go wrong...
  10. inbuninbu

    inbuninbu "Train hard, fight easy"


    I like that, "Mr Elephant" Lol Very cute! If it's a business call, definately stick to surnames unless they tell you otherwise (unlikely though)

    Crossing my finers that you don't get 4 Mr Tanakas 2 Mr Watanabes and 5 Mr Suzukis though! Could get confusing...
  11. ember

    ember Valued Member

    So is it family name first, or personal name first?

    Thank goodness I'm not the one running the meetings. Mostly I follow their lead. I speak very little Japanese, our negotiations are done in English.
  12. hwarang cl

    hwarang cl The Evil Twin

    Like the korean title "Nym", I always find it funny when other BB's refer to themselves with Nym added to ther rank.
  13. Mr Punch

    Mr Punch Homicidal puppet


    They don't use given names very often at all.
  14. ember

    ember Valued Member

    I've heard that the first name is mostly for close friends and family, it suggests a closeness that it's better not to presume.
  15. Mr Punch

    Mr Punch Homicidal puppet

    That's true.

    I know many married couples who don't use first names with their spouses (although that's more in the ****amachi).

    I witnessed this conversation the other day, which is also quite common: When asked, 'So what should I call you? Mr Kitagawa? Kitagawa-san?"
    "Just Kitagawa."

    Many middle-aged men will pretty much insist on that.

    The rules are very complicated and I don't yet understand all of them.
    One of my private students is a member of the Upper House; let's call him Sato. His secretary calls him plain Sato to me, but Sato-Giin (MP) on the phone to others. I call him Sato Sensei (he's an academic although not, of course, my student). I don't know if this is right and nobody seems to be able to tell me. He and his secretary call me Sensei.

    BTW, since we're on terms of address, you should also avoid 'anata' for 'you'. I only use that for my wife, as it also carries the meaning of 'darling'. 'Anata-tachi', the plural, is more often acceptable, but 'kyakusan' ('guest(s)' with the added meaning of 'customer(s)') is more common in singular and plural. 'Sochira' (lit. 'there'/'that way', but roughly meaning, 'your side' in this case) is also common, or 'sochira no hou' ('towards your side'). 'Kimi' (the less polite form of 'anata' is also a bit odd and also means darling). Between men of similar status 'Omae' is more polite than many would believe, or even for man-woman. Unless I'm being lovey-dovey, I use 'Omae' with my wife (on her advice!). Similarly 'Omaera' ('Omaetachi' doesn't seem so common) for the plural.
  16. hanakuso

    hanakuso Banned Banned


    That's overstating it a bit.
  17. hanakuso

    hanakuso Banned Banned

    That's more like it.
  18. Mr Punch

    Mr Punch Homicidal puppet

    Yes, 'They'!

    Is it?


    That's the only part of my posts you took issue with? Well done. I was obviously in a hurry that day, and later I agreed with embersk's assessment.

    I know a lot of people in the ****amachi who don't use given names for their own spouses, as I said. I also know a lot of middle class professionals who do, and a lot of younger people. I also have a couple of couples of friends who are in their early twenties and still use (family name)-san even between themselves.

    There is a burgeoning trend it seems for people to use their school nicknames among VERY familiar informal groups: diminutives of given names, like, Atchan for Atsuko, Norippe, for Noriko...

    So there you go: a few more examples to go with the few examples I gave earlier that you chose to ignore with your pithy comment.

    Now, anything to contribute?

    And while we're at it: yes, 'They'! We're talking about a language point, therefore a cultural point... I gave some example; what did you want me to do? Use all the personal names of my friends? Of course it's anecdotal; if you want to point me to any studies on given name use in Japan, go ahead...

    Big fat :rolleyes:
  19. hanakuso

    hanakuso Banned Banned

    Wow, you don't have to be that embarrassed. Just be more careful before making categorical declarations next time.
  20. Mr Punch

    Mr Punch Homicidal puppet

    I'm not at all embarrassed. A little bemused at your lack of manners (ironically), relevance and lack of useful contribution more like.

    And of course it was an anecdotal aside (rather than a categorical declaration - I take it your a growed-up and don't need me to put IMO or IME experience before everything I say?): DO YOU have a study to show me?
    Didn't think so... and no useful anecdotes... so what exactly are you doing on the thread?

Share This Page