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29-30yr olds: addressing and gifting 2009/6/30 22:54
I am currently in China on an exchange program. Planning to go to Japan this summer and will be staying at my Japanese x-roommate's parent's house.

I am 21, and address my 30 yr old x-roommate & her 29 yr old sister by their first names. I know this is not the norm in Japan. If they introduce me to their friends (presumably around their age), should I address them by name+san or just by their first name?

I have decided to get 1st grade Wulong tea leaves for her parents. However, I couldn't decide what to get her sister. I know her sister doesn't really like to drink tea (which I noticed when she was a guest in our room on her trip to China). Any suggestions on what to give a 29 yr old?

Thanks in advance!
by Jenny (guest)  

... 2009/7/1 09:14
should I address them by name+san or just by their first name?

I would start off by name + san and see how they react to that. They might ask you "just call me (first name only)" or something like that eventually. I'm assuming you will be talking in English, correct?
by AK rate this post as useful

Japanese names 2009/7/1 09:45

If you are talking in English, I recommend using the English form (i.e. first name only). While AK above (a Japanese native) seems OK with it, I've heard other Japanese natives say that using "-san" for Japanese names when speaking in English actually sounds patronizing, so I would leave it out.
by Dave in Saitama (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2009/7/1 10:41
Ummmm. I guess preferences differ... but some Japanese people, who may not be used to being referred to by first name only, seem to find it somewhat blunt until they get used to it. So that's why I suggested trying with "-san" initially to see how they react (also considering the age difference). Or just ask if you can call them {just the first name}.

"-san" on initial encounters will likely taken as sign of politeness, I'd say.
by AK rate this post as useful

I think I should just speak English? 2009/7/1 10:49
I'm assuming you will be talking in English, correct?

Even though I have taken Japanese language courses in high school for 2 years, I could barely introduce myself and maybe speak a few random words/phrases (I know, I was a bad girl!). I think it is best if I just speak English so I wouldn't get ridiculed.

I am also scared of my roommate's parents speaking Japanese to me. They know I have studied Japanese before but don't know I couldn't even carry a conversation. I am just planning to introduce myself in Japanese to them (and other people who speak no English) & say I have only studied Japanese for 2 months.
by Jenny (guest) rate this post as useful

You won't be ridiculed 2009/7/1 11:55
Nobody will ridicule you for having a low level of Japanese. You are more likely to be praised (genuinely) for even being able to string together a sentence in Japanese. If you want to improve, you have to practice, right?
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2009/7/1 11:59
When speaking in English leave out the ~san part. When speaking in Japanese, it's important to include the ~san part (unless otherwise indicated by the person, use their family name, but if they say it's ok for your first name, thats ok to).

As for greetings in Japanese, keep it simple.

Btw, just because someone has studied a language doesn't mean they can speak it. Two different things. So you might have studied Japanese but you can't speak it very well. Same for the Japanese they studied English, doesn't necessarily translate well into actually speaking it.
by Express Train (guest) rate this post as useful

-san and not -san 2009/7/1 14:20
I don't think it would hurt to put -san on their names even when speaking in foreign languages such as English, but generally, when talking in English, if the other party calls you without -san, it's quite natural to respond without -san, and vice versa; if the other party calls you with -san, you should stick to -san when calling them.

What I'm saying is that, when everybody else is calling each other without -san, you'd look weird being the only one called with -san. You'd feel old sometimes :)
by Uco, another Japanese native (guest) rate this post as useful

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