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Have I been rude? (names) 2007/11/29 05:52
I haven't been to Japan in 4 years, and have kind of lost touch with most of my friends there. I am trying to re-connect with them again, and will visit them in May. I have in the past always called them by their first names only, with no -san at the end. It never seemed to bother them but after just reading a thread about how to address people I am worried I have been rude and never knew it.

so... is it bad that I call my friends by the first name (or shortened first name) only? Or should I start putting a -san behind it? Or is -san too formal?

I assume it is possible that they accept I am a foreigner with poor japanese skills... and they just expect me to address them as I would a friend in the US.
by Robyn  

... 2007/11/29 11:03
Were you speaking in Japanese? And from the first meeting on, you simply started calling your friends by their first name (or shortened first name)? Did you ask any of them how they preferred to be called by you?

If the answers to the above are: yes, yes, and no, then some of your friends might have been *surprised* to be simply called by the first name only, but I don't think they would have found that "rude." They would have assumed that that is your custom where you come from. I don't know how old/young you are, but among college students or anyway young people (people in their 20s I'd say), they are pretty easy with how they address each other (is my iimpression), so I would not worry. If now you suddenly started adding "-san," they might again be surprised, or might conclude that you've grown up. It might be better to ask how they want to be addressed :)

Personally, I (= Japanese) do not mind non-Japanese people calling me simply with my first name, even if we've just met, if we are talking in English. If anyone did that in Japanese, though, I'd just be taken aback a moment, and think, "oh my, what makes you think we're that close??!!" but maybe that's because of my age :)
by AK (Japanese) rate this post as useful

no 2007/11/29 14:01
if you're really their friend it shouldnt matter since friends arnt formal to each other.
by Kate rate this post as useful

maybe, maybe not... 2007/11/30 02:18
Robyn,

I know that some of my Japanese friends actually asked me not to use -san when I address them. They claimed that since we were close, we did not have to be so formal.

I also know friends, usually the women, who will use -chan with the younger girls but no -san with the guys or older women.

Why not contact your friends and ask them how they would like to be addressed.

Tenshi
by Tenshi rate this post as useful

. 2007/11/30 02:35
Yeah, we always spoke in English because my Japanese is horrible. And they never really seemed taken aback by it... but then I don't really use names in conversation a lot anyway, mainly just in e-mail. I just feel weird to ask them after so long how I should address them. If I ever try to talk to them in Japanese though I will definitely have to remember to use "san." I am always afraid to use kun or chan because I don't fully understand what they mean when used in different ways by different genders/ages.

I also had a couple friends (that I only saw a few times) that were in their early 20's when I met them years ago that called me -chan, it was the first time anyone ever used a name ending for me (and having just remembered that I feel a lot better about not using -san with my other friends)... so I think that maybe I should just try to use name endings only when it seems expected by the individual person.


(I am 27/female... to answer a question above)
by Robyn rate this post as useful

san 2007/11/30 07:46
I think most foreigners think san is too formal.
In Japan for the Japanese, it means simply being civil and polite and also friendly in terms of being respectble, it's just Japanese way. If they call your name with san, it just means the same way as how your name is called in your country.
My friends use san with my first or last name, my sensei called me by my last name with san. My aunts will use my nickname with chan or first name without san(just first name).
by cc rate this post as useful

No 'san' in English 2007/12/5 22:53
If you're speaking in English, there's absolutely no need to use 'san' or 'kun' or 'chan' or anything else. As students of English they won't expect it and would probably be surprised to hear it.

Personally, I can't stand to hear 'san' in English because it's not English. Fortunately, the only place I've heard it is in anime dubbed by amateurs and I never watch anime.
by Alec rate this post as useful

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