Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Gender Speech in Japan ~ Or, help understanding Hana Kimi :D

As I was translating Hana Kimi 05, it became clear that some things just can't be properly translated, and a post to explain would be better. So here is a very short post detailing some of the common gender-speech terms found in episode 05~06 in particular, and the entire drama in general.


  In Japanese, there are several words used to say "I."

    "Watashi"  is either polite or feminine - ie, a man might use it in a more formal situation, but a teenage guy will probably never use it. It's the most common "I" used by teenage girls.

   "Boku" - a more assertive/ less polite / more masculine form of I. Used by men, boys, and sometimes tomboyish girls.

    "Ore"  - much more assertive, more arrogant, more masculine. Can be considered rude if used in a polite situation, when speaking to someone much older/ above you, etc. Used mostly by teenage guys.

    ----Ashiya generally uses "Ore," even when some of the guys use "Boku" - she's kinda over-compensating, trying to be super masculine to cover up that she's a girl. When Makita, who assumes she's a girl, hears her say "Ore," he thinks she's being tomboyish or something and thinks it's cute.

Terms of address

  I haven't translated these in the drama so far. Most of you might know them, but if not....

   Not usesing a term at all (ie, saying just the person's name) is either 1. intimate/casual (close friends, dating, etc) or 2. rude (towards someone you don't know, or don't like, etc.)
  -san : basic. polite. Default.
  - sama: very polite
 - kun: There are a lot of exceptions, but mostly used towards younger guys. Namba's mom uses "kun" towards the guys working for her.
  -chan: Lots of exceptions, but generally used towards younger girls. Also a closer/ more intimate term than -san. When Makita uses it towards Mizuki, there are 2 immediate possible assumptions: 1. He sees Mizuki as a much younger guy and/or a girly guy, 2. He thinks Mizuki is a girl. So while a lot of the dorm didn't really take notice, Sano picked up on it immediately.
-sempai: An older classmate / co-worker / etc.