Language | WELL SAID

Courteous keigo is about showing respect to the listener

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Saimon Buraun-to mōshimasu (My name is Simon Brown)

Situation 1: At a meeting, Mr. Brown, who came from Singapore on a business trip, says a few words.

ブラウン: ブラウンと申します。シンガポール事務所からまいりました。以前はこちらの東京事務所でお世話になっておりました。

Buraun: Buraun-to mōshimasu. Shingapōru-jimusho-kara mairimashita. Izen-wa kochira-no Tōkyō-jimusho-de o-sewa-ni natte-orimashita.

Brown: I’m Brown. I came from the Singapore office, but I used to work in this Tokyo office, and I owe you a lot.

Last week we introduced the uses of humble expression, one of the forms of 敬語 (けいご, polite expression). Continuing on from last week, we will introduce other kind of 敬語 known as “courteous expression,” which includes such verbs as もうします (to say), まいります (to come, to go), いたします (to do), ぞんじます (to know) and おります (to be). Courteous expression is used in formal situations such as speeches, presentations, ceremonies, business conversations and job interviews, and is similar to humble expression. The difference is that courteous expression is used to show a formal tone and politeness to the listener, whereas in humble expression the speaker shows respect by lowering his/her action and lifting the state of the person to whom the speaker wishes to show respect. Therefore, courteous expression does not usually lower the subject’s action or state. Example: 三番線(さんばんせん)に電車(でんしゃ)がまいります。 (The train is arriving at platform 3.)

Situation 2: Division head Ms. Yamani is talking with section chief Mr. Okubo about a new project..

ヤマニ: ジャカルタ事務所に行って、プロジェクトの状況を見てきてもらえますか。

大久保: はい、では、来月の10日ごろにまいります。

Yamani: Jakaruta-jimusho-ni itte, purojekuto-no jōkyō-o mite-kite-moraemasu-ka?

Okubo: Hai, dewa, raigetsu-no tōka-goro-ni mairimasu.

Yamani: Could you go to Jakarta office and see how the project is going?

Okubo: OK. So, I’ll go on around the 10th of next month.

Courteous expression is used when the speaker’s action is not directed toward the person to whom he/she wants to show respect, unlike with humble expression, e.g., if the person to whom the speaker shows respect (the listener) is not in Osaka, they would say: 私(わたし)はあす大阪(おおさか)にまいります。 (I go to Osaka tomorrow.). If the listener is in Osaka, 私はあす大阪にうかがいます is used. Similarly, 申(もう)します is courteous expression, and 申し上(あ)げます is humble expression. If the speaker is addressing the listener politely, 私は子(こ)どもにこのことを申しました (I told my child about this matter) is used, and he/she would not show respect to the 子ども. On the other hand, the speaker should show respect to the 社長(しゃちょう)in this sentence: 私は社長にこのことを申し上げました。 (I told the president about this matter).

Bonus Dialogue: Ms. Tamachi is talking with customer Mr. Lin.

リン: アジア商事(しょうじ)のリンと申(もう)します。よろしくお願(ねが)いいたします。

田町: 担当(たんとう)の田町(たまち)と申します。よろしくお願いいたします。

リン:ああ、お名前(なまえ)は存(ぞん)じあげております。課長(かちょう)の高橋(たかはし)から、とても 頼(たよ)りになる方(かた)だと聞(き)いており ます。田町さんがご担当で、とても心強(こころづよ)いです。

田町: えっ、そんな、まだまだですが‥。えー、こちらの新商品(しんしょうひん)は、当社(とうしゃ)が開発(かいはつ)してきた技術(ぎじゅつ)を使(つか)っております。

リン: ああ、そうだったんですか。それは存じませんでした。とてもいい商品ですね。来月(らいげつ)からはこちらの取引(とりひき)を増(ふや)やしたいと思(おも)っていたんです。それで、できればもう少(すこ)し値引(ねび)きを‥。

田町: リンさんはほんとうにお上手(じょうず)ですね。では、上司(じょうし)と相談(そうだん)してみましょう。

Lin: I am Lin from Asia-shoji. Nice to meet you.

Tamachi: My name is Tamachi, and I’ll be responsible for dealing with you. Nice to meet you too.

Lin: Oh, I know your name. Our section chief Takahashi said you are a very reliable person. I’m very happy to have the chance to work with you.

Tamachi: Oh, actually, I’m still inexperienced. Anyway, this new product uses technology we have developed.

Lin: Oh, I didn’t know that. It’s a very good product. In fact, we’re thinking of increasing our use of this, and if possible, could you give us discount?

Tamachi: Oh, you’re a very smooth talker. Well, I’ll talk with my boss about it.

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