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I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/26 17:20
Hi, I'm a brazilian trying to earn a living in Japan.

I dont like to be called by my last name by my co-workers, makes me feel old (I'm 28)! So i wanted to be called by my first name instead and i wonder if it would be rude/inappropriate to ask people to do it? In particular to a female japanese co-worker same age as me.
by Braziliangaijin (guest)  

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/26 19:03
I have the opposite problem. People - even in a business context - keep calling me by my first name, while I prefer to be called by my last name. Either my last name is too complicated to pronounce or they think that all Westerners are as informal as Americans when it comes to names.

In your case, it is not rude, at all, to ask the people to call you by first name, especially among close co-workers. In my case, it is more difficult.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/27 00:16
I have the same problem as Uji.

My last name is really long and hard to pronounce, so I've introduced myself by my first name or my nickname. Honestly, I'd rather be called by my last name plus "Ms." or "-sensei" at work, but I thought that it'd be easier for them to say my first name instead.

No, it's not rude to ask other people to call you by your first name. Japanese people do that, too, when they want to have a closer relationship.
by looongname (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/27 10:10
@loongname:

Unless you are a lawyer, doctor, etc. asking from others to call you -sensei is absolutely inappropriate. Or do you demand from your friends in your homecountry to call you Professor?
And the 'Mr, Ms or Mrs + Lastname' is also not very common here.

Honestly speaking, I do not get this 'naming-convention-problem' in this thread. In most countries friends or work colleagues call themselves by the first name, so this should not be anything new to you guys.
And if the only way you feel respected is by being called by the last name...well, I guess then you do not need to be respected in the first place, sorry.
by asdf (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/27 10:48
asdf, you should respect the fact that there are many different culture with different customs around the world. Your values are not the only right ones.

I strongly doubt that in most countries co-workers call themselves by first name. In particular it is not true in Japan. And even if your claim were true, it is still no reason to ridicule the people with different cultural customs.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/27 11:29
I second Uji. I was born in Europe .In school we called one another by the family name. The first name was only used outside school by a few close friends.

As soon as we started working we called one another Mr X or Mrs Z...because we were coworkers, NOT friends. If we became friends with a co-worker then we used each other first name OUTSIDE the work place..

At work, in North America, I won the right to be called by my initials, not my first or last name. Even my badge has my initials only. Like JR in Dallas..

We all have the right to tell others how we prefer to be called. And it is much better to be formal with others than too familiar..
Calling men one barely knows either buddy or dude is totally wrong.
by Red frog (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/27 13:50
@Uji:

As I live & work in Japan, I am very well aware of the customs here. And sorry if I 'ridiculed people with different cultural customs'.

But can you please explain to me, what you try to get out of this? I mean what does it matter if someone calls you Peter or Kobayashi-san or Shimizu-sensei or whatever? It is the respect people have not the respect people pretend to have by calling each others fancy names!
Yes, I do not like it if someone does not respect me and calls me by my first name if he is the only one to do so. But if this is the custom in a country - well, then why not arrange yourself with it?

@Red frog:

"And it is much better to be formal with others than too familiar.."

For what reason? Being considered friendly is not good? Are you afraid of people randomly falling in love with you if you are not formal enough? Or are you afraid of telling your co-workers things you do not want them to know in a 'too familiar' athmosphere?

"Calling men one barely knows either buddy or dude is totally wrong"

Funny - Do not even know where to start on this one :)
by asdf (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/27 15:28
I mean what does it matter if someone calls you Peter or Kobayashi-san or Shimizu-sensei or whatever?

Do you really don't understand this? It matters with regards to formality, politeness, social hierarchy, personal distance, pride and similar issues. I have never studied sociology, but by growing up in a society that valued a certain degree of formality, I got used to these things. Therefore, I feel surprised when being addressed by first name in a situation in which I would usually be addressed by last name, like as a client in a shop or as a patient in a hospital or in a business situation.

Of course, it would be no issue, at all, if I lived in a society where everybody is addressed by first name, but if it is just me that is addressed by first name and everybody else by last name like in quite a few situations here in Japan, it feels strange. It is not enough of an issue for me to bring it up and try to change it, but it just feels a little bit strange and I would prefer that they called me by my last name.

It is the respect people have not the respect people pretend to have by calling each others fancy names!

I agree that actual actions are the most important, but it does not mean that cultural formalities and customs are unimportant. Again you are ridiculing cultural customs as pretenses.

But if this is the custom in a country - well, then why not arrange yourself with it?

I don't think you got my point.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/27 16:25
@ Uji:

Yes, I truly cannot understand this - otherwise I would not bother asking you! I see where you are trying to go, but I still cannot see the 'deeper' purpose.

If formality, politeness and all those other poshy words do not serve any purpose - I do not see a point in them! In my daily life I deal with a lot of very rich individuals - so I know what it means to treat others with respect and politeness. But does this mean I should call the CEO of my company by the last name if I communicate in English with him? Well, probably not, no. Can I call my friend by his nickname and truly appreciate his bright mind and great personality? Sure, why not!?
Can I go out for drinks with my teammates (as a teamleader) and get absolutely wasted and then be nicknamed Aka-chan as I had a red face that night? Sure, why not!?

Where I am trying to go is: For me it truly does not matter what people call me. They can call me Cheesehead or Shimizu-sensei or Prof. Dr. Dr. mult. hc. Peters - as long as they respect me it absolutely does not matter at all. Why do you judge the respect/social hierarchy or whatever by the way people name you? Especially considering this is the normal way for foreigners in Japan?

And please dont go the 'you do not respect me'-way. Assume I do mean this in a polite curiousness.



by asdf (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/27 19:07
I share your philosophy that the real character and the real actions count much more than formality. I am also fully aware that there are people like you who don't care how they are called, at all. That's good for them.

I don't care much, either, otherwise I would have gone mad long time ago. It is just a minor annoyance when in Japan (in Japanese) I get called by my first name in a situation in which a Japanese person would be called by their last name. I understand that my complicated last name and confusion about which is my first and last name are the main reasons for the fact that I get called by my first name often, but I still wish that it would not be the case.

So, when I read Brazilianjin's post I couldn't help myself feel amused about the fact that a person has the exact opposite issue to mine and posted the side remark. I did not expect this to escalate into such a debate.

If you want to discuss the deeper meaning of social behavior, I am afraid you will have to look for a different discussion partner. I can't explain it. But I am sure there is one.

Especially considering this is the normal way for foreigners in Japan?

I don't understand what you mean with that. What is the normal way for foreigners in Japan? I think it is normal for foreigners in Japan to be called by last name - just like Braziliangaijin - and think that I am an exception. And I am talking about business and everyday life situations in a Japanese language environment. Not about an English language environment. Of course, completely different dynamics and rules apply when communication is done in English, and I would actually feel rather awkward if I were to be addressed by my last name when talking in English.
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/27 20:47
@asdf:

In other words...an English teacher, like me, doesn't deserve to be called "sensei" because he/she is a foreigner?
I was a teacher, so I expected the students to call me "sensei" or "Ms." at the very least, but only about 60% of them did that. The other teachers were fine since most of them called me either "sensei" or "san."

I don't know which country you're from, but even in my home country, the (infamously rude, mannerless) USA, the students there called their teachers (& subs & student-teachers) "Mr." or "Ms." unless it's a college professor who insists on being called by his/her first name.

No, I don't ask my friends to call me anything besides my first name/nickname, but I'm talking about a work setting here.

Also, I disagree with your statement that "the 'Mr, Ms or Mrs + Lastname' is also not very common here." The teacher who I replaced was called by his last name + "sensei" or "san." Most of the other foreign teachers in my company are called by their last name & "sensei" or "Mr./Ms." so obviously it is not rare to do so...unless it's only a phenomenon here in Tokyo.
by loongname (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/27 23:13
@loongname

Introducing yourself with your first name/nickname and than complaining about not being addressed by your last name is kind of contradictory I think.

If you introduce yourself with your last name, people will bother to use it, even if it is a long or unusual one. They may not pronounce it right, but at least they try. Just my experience.
by muki (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/27 23:44
So are you supposed to say
"My name is ---sensei" to the students?
No, I don't think so.

You're supposed to introduce yourself by your name & then the students will naturally (or otherwise) call you "sensei" or "Mr./Ms."

"Hello, my name is XXX-sensei, nice to meet you!"

Has anyone ever said that?

I've always introduced myself by using only my name.
by loongname (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/28 01:23
In your first post you wrote:

My last name is really long and hard to pronounce, so I've introduced myself by my first name or my nickname. Honestly, I'd rather be called by my last name plus "Ms." or "-sensei" at work, but I thought that it'd be easier for them to say my first name instead.

So I was wondering.
by muki (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/28 09:51
As I said in my first post, it is totally fine to expect others to call you XYZ-sensei if you are a lawyer, doctor, teacher, etc. Sorry, if this was not stated clear enough.

That being said, of course you do not introduce yourself as "Hi, I am XYZ-sensei" but rather "Hi, my name is Ms XYZ", as you never add -san, -sensei or whatever at the end of your own name.

If it really bothers you how people call you at work (especially if there are lots of different naming conventions) I would address it once. Do not make a big issue out of it but I would say something like:
"I would appreciate if all of you would call me Ms. XYZ as of now."

But I guess this is kind of a unique situation as it is somehow strange if my co-worker would tell me to call him by his lastname as of now, and I called him by the first name the last few years...
by asdf (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/28 14:57
''And it is much better to be formal with others than too familiar..''

For what reason? Being considered friendly is not good? Are you afraid of people randomly falling in love with you if you are not formal enough? Or are you afraid of telling your co-workers things you do not want them to know in a 'too familiar' athmosphere??


Are you naturally thick-headed or are you working hard to annoy people?
OBVIOUSLY ''it is much better to be formal etc.'' refer to talks with people one doesn't know well...or in circumstances when both parties intuitively know how to keep their distances. For example when a new salesperson come to my office to sell something..

While riding the rapid transit in my North American hometown many young men have sat by me through the years, many of them with tattoos, piercings, baggies jeans showing their underwear etc. I also talk routinely to young men at the gym.
100% of them have called me sir and continued the conversation in a formal way.
So it is an unwritten rule that pretty much everyone understand.

I had a manager that was very informal and asked very crude personal questions to anyone he talked too (a mild one--for him--was ''are people in your ethnic group wearing underwear?''..believe me every single person looked shell-shocked and upset..One salesman even changed job so he didn't have to see him again..
Give me formal anytime..
by Red frog (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: I want to be called by my first name 2012/3/28 15:44
"Are people in your ethnic group wearing underwear?" is not informal but inappropriate.
by asdf (guest) rate this post as useful

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