Tokorode, TY-sha no tantō-sha no kata ga kawatta sō desu ne. (By the way, I heard that the person in charge over at TY Co. has changed.)

Situation 1: Section chief Mr. Okubo asks Ms. Gray about the estimate she was asked to prepare for a company called TY.

大久保: TY社の見積もりはできた?

グレイ : もうすぐ完成します。ところで、TY社の担当者の方が変わったそうですね。

Ōkubo: TY-sha no mitsumori wa dekita?

Gurei: Mōsugu kansei shimasu. Tokorode, TY-sha no tantō-sha no kata ga kawatta sō desu ne.

Okubo: Have you completed the estimate for TY Co.?

Gray: I will complete it shortly. By the way, I heard that the person in charge over at TY has changed.

Two easy ways to change the topic of a Japanese conversation involve the word ところで and the phrase 話(はなし)は変(か)わるけど. ところで is used at the beginning of a sentence, and can be translated in English as “by the way” or “incidentally.” The function of ところで is to inform the listener that the speaker intends to change the topic of conversation, and it’s used in both spoken and written Japanese.

It’s not unusual for a question to follow ところで, as in the conversation below:

A: 新(あたら)しいシステムになって、仕事(しごと)がやりやすくなりました。 (After introducing the new system, our work became easier.)

B: それはよかった。ところで、あの件(けん)は、どうなった。 (That’s good. By the way, what became of that other matter?)

Situation 2: Mr. Mita and his colleague Mr. Sere are talking about TY Co.

三田: TY社との仕事もやっと順調に進むようになって、ほっとしているよ。

セレ: うん、本当にそうだね。…話は変わるけど、駅の前のケーキ屋があったところは、こんど居酒屋になるらしいよ。来週、オープンするんだって。

Mita: TY-sha to no shigoto mo yatto junchō ni susumu yō ni natte, hotto shite-iru yo.

Sere: Un, hontō ni sō da ne. … Hanashi wa kawaru kedo, eki no mae no kēki-ya ga atta tokoro wa, kondo izakaya ni naru rashii yo. Raishū, ōpun suru-n datte.

Mita: Our business with TY Co. seems to be finally on track and I’m relieved.

Sere: Yeah, that’s really true. … This is a change of subject, but I heard that spot in front of the station where the cake shop was is going to become a Japanese pub. It opens next week.

The term 話は変わるけど is similar in meaning to ところで, but is used when the speaker wants to change the subject of the conversation completely. More politely put, it is written or spoken as 話は変わりますが (Sorry to change the subject, but):

A: 旅行(りょこう)は楽(たの)しかったよ。 (My trip was really fun.)

B: それはよかったね。 … 話は変わるけど、高橋(たかはし)さんは今(いま)、どうしているか知(し)ってる? (That’s great. … This is a change of subject, but do you know anything about what Ms. Takahashi is doing now?)

Bonus Dialogue: Continued from Situation 2.

三田(みた): そうか。どんな店(みせ)になるのかな。オープンしたら行(い)ってみようよ。

セレ: もちろんいいよ。最近(さいきん)、この辺(へん)、いい感(かん)じの店が増(ふ)えてきたね。

三田: うん。帰(かえ)りに寄(よ)りたくなるよ。…ところで、ちょっと前(まえ)は工事(こうじ)をしている店が多(おお)かったけど、最近は減(へ)ってきたと思(おも)わない?

セレ: うん。消費税(しょうひぜい)が上(あ)がったせいじゃないかな。

三田: そうか、やっぱりね。建築(けんちく)では消費税が高(たか)いからね。

セレ: うん。で、話は変わるけど、最近、彼女(かのじょ)とはうまくやっている?

三田: え?急(きゅう)に話題(わだい)が変わるなあ。

セレ: いやあ、彼女、建築関係(かんけい)の仕事をしてるって言(い)っていたから、思い出(だ)したんだ。

三田: じゃ、その話は新しい居酒屋(いざかや)で。

セレ: そうしよう!

Mita: Oh, really. I wonder what kind of shop it will be. Let’s try going there when it opens.

Sere: Of course, that’s great. Recently, in this neighborhood, the number of nice shops has come to increase.

Mita: Yeah. Whenever I go home I want to pop into one. … By the way, there were a lot of shops that were under construction a while ago, but don’t you think (this construction has been) decreasing recently?

Sere: Yeah. Isn’t it because the consumption tax has risen?

Mita: Oh yeah, I expected as much. Because in construction the consumption tax is high.

Sere: Yeah. Also, this is a change of subject, but have you been doing well with your girlfriend recently?

Mita: What? That’s a real sudden change of topic.

Sere: No, I remembered it because you had said she’s working in architecture.

Mita: Well, that talk can wait for when the new pub opens.

Sere: Let’s do that!

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