Drawing conclusions in Japanese with ‘sore ja’ and moving things along with ‘sate’

by Akemi Tanahashi and Hitomi Tashiro

Contributing Writers

Sore-de-wa, kono anken wa kono-mama susumeru koto ni shitai to omoimasu. (In that case, I’d like to proceed with this project as is.)

Situation 1: In a meeting, section chief Okubo takes a show of hands from his staff.

グレイ: 全員、賛成です。反対の方はいませんね。

大久保: それでは、この案件はこのまま進めることにしたいと思います。

Gurei: Zen’in, sansei desu. Hantai no kata wa imasen ne.

Ōkubo: Sore-de-wa, kono anken wa kono-mama susumeru koto ni shitai to omoimasu.

Gray: Everyone’s in agreement. There’s no one against, right?

Okubo: In that case, I’d like to proceed with the project as is.

Today we will introduce two words — それじゃ and さて — that are used at the beginning of sentences. それじゃ (それでは is the formal version, じゃ the colloquial form) is used to change the topic, and can be translated as “well then.” Example: それでは 会議(かいぎ)を始(はじ)めたいと思(おも)います。 (Well then, I’d like to start the meeting.) それじゃ also means “in that case/if that is the case” and is used to communicate the speaker’s will, invitation, inference or conclusion after their counterpart’s or their own previous remark. Examples: 「あ、もう11時(じゅういちじ)だ。」 「じゃ、そろそろ帰(かえ)りましょう。」 “Oh, it is already 11 o’clock.” “In that case, let’s go home soon.” 「林(はやし)さん、まだ熱(ねつ)があるんだって。」 「じゃ、あしたのパーティーにはたぶん来(こ)ないね。」 “Mr. Hayashi still has fever, I heard.” “So, he probably won’t make it to tomorrow’s party, I guess.”; 残業代(ざんぎょうだい)がもらえな かったのか。それじゃ、怒(おこ)るのも無理(むり)ないよ。 “Did he not get overtime pay? Well then, it’s no wonder he got angry.”

Situation 2: Continued from Situation 1.

大久保: さて、次は新しいシステムの導入についてなんですが。

グレイ: はい。いよいよ本格的に検討しなければなりませんね。

Ōkubo: Sate, tsugi wa atarashii shisutemu no dōnyū ni tsuite nan desu ga.

Gurei: Hai. Iyoiyo honkakuteki ni kentō shinakereba narimasen ne.

Okubo: Now, the next item concerns the introduction of a new system.

Gray: Yes. We really do have to examine it seriously.

さて signals a change in topic and can be used when a speaker moves on to the next subject. さて often goes with expressions that show will, such as V+よう/ましょう, and words that introduce the next topic, such as 次に/次は (next). However, さて cannot be used in a request or order sentence. Example: さて、話(はなし)は変(か)わりますが、採用(さいよう)の件(けん)はどう なっていますか。 (And now, changing the subject, what’s going on with recruitment?)

Bonus Dialogue: Continued from Situation 2. Section chief Okubo wraps up the meeting.

大久保: それでは、他(ほか)になければ、これで会議(かいぎ)を終(お)わります。

三田: …さて、会議も終わったし、ちょっと休(やす)もう。今(いま)、何時(なんじ)かな?

田町: 3時(さんじ)よ。

三田: それじゃ、コーヒーでも飲(の)むか。あと、何(なに)かちょっとおやつがほしいな。そういえば、カップケーキがなかった?

田町: そんなの、きのうみんなで食(た)べちゃったでしょ。

三田: ああ、そうだったなあ。

田町: 三田(みた)さん、ダイエットをするって言(い)っていたでしょう? そんなことじゃ、全然(ぜんぜん)実行(じっこう)できていないじゃないの。

三田: うーん、コーヒータイムには何かほしくなるんだけど、しかたがないな。さて、そろそろ仕事(しごと)に戻(もど)るか。

田町: ちょっと、話(はなし)をはぐらかさないで!

Okubo: Well then, if there is nothing else, that’s the end of the meeting.

Mita: … Now, since the meeting is over, let’s take a short break. What time is it now?

Tamachi: Three o’clock.

Mita: Well then, I’ll have a coffee. I also fancy a little snack. Come to think of it, don’t we have cupcakes?

Tamachi: No, we ate them up yesterday.

Mita: Ah, so we did.

Tamachi: Mita, you said you were going on a diet, right? Whenever you say such a thing, you just can’t follow through, can you?

Mita: Weeeell, I did want something to eat during the coffee break, and that can’t be helped. Anyway, I’ll go back to work soon.

Tamachi: Hey, hang on. Don’t dodge the issue!