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Which is first/last name? 2008/5/22 02:31
I am corresponding by email with Masayoshi Horita about a business matter. Is this a male or female name? Which is the first name, and which is the last name? On one email, he or she was addressed as "Horita-san", and I was addressed as Polly-san. Best advice on how to greet in email?
by Polly  

.. 2008/5/22 10:34
Mr. Horita is a male, Horita being his family (last) name. "Last name + san" is the typical way of addressing each other in Japan.

Although it is proper to write "Mr. Horita" in English business emails, and although it is proper to write "Horita sama" in Japanese emails, I notice that it's quite customary to write "...san" when you're writing in English but know that you're corresponding on Japanese matters.

On that other email, you were probably addressed "Polly san" (A) because you addressed yourself "Polly" somewhere in your correspondence, or (B) because the writer thought it was customary to address people by first names in your culture but by last names in Mr. Horita's culture, but just had put a -san to it to make it sound nicer. In the Japanese language it is considered rude to address someone without putting titles (such as -san, Mr.-, Dr.- etc.) to it. But it is actually impolite to call oneself with a -san attached. If he called himself with -san somewhere, I suppose he was joking.

So in conclusion, I think you can go ahead and use "Horita-san" to address him, but call yourself "Polly". That would be a normal reaction. But if Mr. Horita's position is much higher than yours, it is safer to call him Mr. Horita.
by Uco, native Japanese worker rate this post as useful

first or last name ? 2008/5/22 10:34
in Japan as in many countries, including countries in Europe,it is the custom the introduce one self or be introduced as: family name first then surname. this should answer your question. In mail, it all depends on the older person and/or the most powerful person (business, job title, etc.) to decide if one uses the formal or informal way. Other posters will likely have different views.
by Auntie Bert rate this post as useful

Just so that you won't be confused 2008/5/22 18:11
"in Japan as in many countries, including countries in Europe,it is the custom the introduce one self or be introduced as: family name first then surname."

This is true, but surely when one is writing in English language, the person tends to follow the English custom by writing in the order of "first name and then last name".

In any case, Masayoshi is a typical Japanese first name for males, and Horita is a common Japanese family name. Google the names and you will probably find convincing examples.
by Uco rate this post as useful

thank you 2008/5/22 21:02
Thank you, Uco-san and Auntie Bert-san! You have both been very helpful!
by Polly rate this post as useful

a little off topic, but... 2008/5/23 03:24
...what other countries in Europe, apart from Hungary, use the family name first? I have never heard of any others :)

Sorry for the off topic.
by pixie75 rate this post as useful

family name first 2008/5/23 18:27
France for one. Years ago there was a famous film, by Louis Malle I think, called "Lacombe lucien". Lacombe is the family name. The title refer to the custom that whenever an official ask a French person "name please" the answer is always family name first. In high school most teachers used the family name only. Students would also call one another by their family name, especially in front of other students. If you did something really bad as a teenager, parents might say "Lacombe we got to talk"
by Not Lacombe rate this post as useful

name? 2008/5/23 18:43
from a blog.."But a practice we have in common with the French is to put our(last)name before first name on forms, which (as far as I can tell), is not the case in the US..."

Most forms in the US are surname first; it's certainly not an absolute rule, but enough that I do get caught off-guard when my surname doesn't come first.

Some international-type official documents do this too, or at least, all the immigration paperwork I get to see does. It is more common outside the US in general, not just Europe, but anywhere with a relatively large bureaucracy, I think.
I should add that family name first is mainly for official purposes. Older French people like me (50 plus)also introduce themselves to strangers by their family name only. I use my first name with friends etc.only or will give it at a later encounter. In North America young store clerks will glance at my credit card and call me by my first name and I usually answer with a cold smile: it is MISTER. to you.
by XXX rate this post as useful

I think you may have misunderstood? 2008/5/23 20:39
Oh, I have lived in France, and though officially on forms, for administration purposes (and in school register, also for easier alphabeticising) it would indeed be Lacombe, Lucien, in daily life, if talking about that person, he would be called Lucien Lacombe :) I meant to ask about countries that had surname first on not just a formal basis, but as part of the culture, like Japan or Hungary :)
by pixie75 rate this post as useful

surname means family name 2008/5/25 01:30
just for information:
Surname / last name = family name
Given name = first name

I hope this clears up any confusion.
by nanshi rate this post as useful

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