Uki Uki NihonGO + Culture! – Lesson 2 – politeness

May 23, 2014 - May 23, 2014
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In today’s lesson we discuss a topic very important in Japanese language, levels of speech. Throughout our everyday conversations, we’re always having discussions with a variety of people, from friends and family, colleagues, clients, guests and so on. In Japanese you must take this into account!

The primary levels of speech are:

Casual (friends, family)
Polite (colleagues, acquaintances, strangers)
Respectful (boss, guests, teachers, customers)

Using the incorrect politeness level is not the end of the world, but having the knowledge of which level to use and when to use it will help you out on your road to mastering Japanese!

We would like to hear from you! Please feel free to ask questions and comment on what you’d like to learn. We’ll be creating Q+A lessons in the future!

Thanks for watching! See you next time! Dewa, mata kondo!

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うん (un) – yes (casual)
はい (hai) – yes (polite)
ええ (ee) – yes (respectful)

Lesson Script:

K&A: こんにちは!

A: 今日は、日本語の話し方について勉強しましょう。
(Kyou wa, nihongo no hanashikatta ni tsuite benkyou shimashou)
Today, we’re going to talk about the various politeness levels in Japanese.

K: これは、本当に大事! (Kore wa, hontou ni daiji!)
You always have to keep this in mind whenever you speak Japanese. Anywhere. All the time.

A: Japanese has mainly three levels of speech: Casual, polite, and respectful. How do you know which one to pick?

K: It depends on who you are talking to.

A: For example, when you speak with your family and close friends, you use the polite speech.

K: When you speak with people you’re not that close to, such as
acquaintances, colleagues and also strangers, you use the polite

A: When you speak to your boss, teachers, and guests or customers, basically anybody you’re formal with, you use the respectful speech.

K: Manners are extremely important in Japanese culture. So in our うきうき (uki uki) video series, whenever we introduce an expression or phrase, we’ll always show the politeness level.

A: Even if you’re saying the same exact thing, it will sound different depending on the politeness level. For instance, when you want to ask someone, "do you drink coffee often?" we say…

Q: ここよく来るの?
A: うん。

Q: ここによく来ます?
A: はい。

Q: ここによくいらっしゃいますか?
A: ええ。

A: Notice even the simple response of "Yes" is different depending on the politeness level.

K: Now, saying something using the incorrect politeness level isn’t
the end of the world. But if you want to be a good Japanese language speaker, this is a skill you absolutely must master.

A: So please watch out for the politeness level in our future videos!

A&K: では、また今度!(dewa, mata kondo!)

  • May 23, 2014 at 12:00 am