I notice that the ask thing says Hai, very cleaver my dear! Could you explain why people say Kun, San, Sama, ect. After they say someone's name? It's confused me for quite awhile -Higumom
That’s a great question Higumom!!
( ^ ω ^) Actually, the perfect topic to start with, so maybe this is Lesson 0?
LESSON 0: Japanese Honorific Titles
So, what’s the difference between –san, -kun, -sama, and all that? They’re all different endings that you can attach on to names, and occasionally other nouns of position, like doctors or lawyers or even bakers! They can be attached to first or last names! Whether you use a first or last name actually depends on your personal relationship with the person you’re speaking to or about.
-san (さん) is the standard politeness level, and is like a conventional Mr/Mrs/Miss. You can use this with just about anybody you meet once you learn their name without offending them. Along with this, you would typically use someone’s last name + san if you just met them, and until they tell you to call them by their first name. I add –san to everyone’s name when I talk to them <(￣︶￣)>
太宰さん • だざい • Dazai-san
敦さん • あつしさん • Atsushi-san
皆さん• みんなさん• Minna-san • Everyone (polite)
お客さん• おきゃくさん• O-Kyaku-san • Mr. Customer
You can even add –san to the word for a shop in order to refer to the owner!
パンやさん• Panya-san • Mr. Baker (literally, Mr. Bread shop!)
本屋さん• ほんやさん• Honya-san • Mr. Bookshop owner (Mr. Bookshop!)
肉やさん• にくやさん• Nikuya-san • Mr. Butcher (Mr. Butcher shop!)
医者さん• いしゃさん• Isha-san • Mr. Doctor
Companies even use –san to refer to other companies, which is common on small maps in phonebooks and business cards. The ADA could be referred to as:
武装探偵社さん• ぶそうたんていしゃさん• Busoutanteisha-san • Mr. Armed Detective Agency!
We can even use –san as a cute way to refer to an animal or inanimate object ^^
うさぎさん• Usagi-san • Mr. Bunny ／(^ × ^)＼
魚さん• さかなさん• Sakana-san • Mr. Fish or Mr. Fishy!
-sama (さま) is much more respectful than –san and is often used by people in the business and service sectors to refer to their customers. It’s often written on letters instead of –san, and you’ll see it often on Japanese receipts from just about any store! Of course, you can also use it to refer to someone you really respect, if their position relative to you warrants it. We also tend to use it to refer to various gods.
お客様• おきゃくさま • O-Kyaku-sama • Honored customer
皆さま• みんなさま• Everyone (honorific)
神さま• かみさま• Kami-sama • Honored God (シ_ _)シ
-kun (君• くん) is more informal and is usually used by people of more senior ranking to refer to people of more junior ranking, or among male colleages, or between male friends. You can certainly address male children with –kun attached to their name, or to close friends and family of any gender. But it can even be used by males of more senior status to younger female employees! This is why Dazai-san occasionally calls me Kyouka-kun ^^
鏡花君 • きょうかくん• Kyouka-kun
樋口君• ひぐちくん• Higuchi-kun <3
-chan (ちゃん) is also informal and shows that the speaker finds a person endearing or cute, and adds a sense of cuteness to the name (chan is cuter than san!). Of course it would be rude to use this with strangers. You can use it for babies, young girls, female friends, grandparents, and even young boys! It’s very common for mothers to shorten their son’s name and attach –chan or –kun to it as a nickname! It’ll eventually get dropped as the boy gets older, at least in public ^^ Atsushi-san always calls me this
鏡花ちゃん• きょうかちゃん • Kyouka-chan
あくちゃん• Aku-chan or あっくん• Akkun (Akutagawa)
I’ll bet Gin-san used to refer to Akutagawa-san like that ^^
It’s also used to refer to cute things and animals!!
猫ちゃん• ねこちゃん• Neko-chan
-tan (たん) An even more cute version of –chan!! It’s like baby talk (widdle instead of little) and mascots often have it added onto their names. Only used with young children in a family or among very close friends or family to add cuteness as a nickname. Actually, all sorts of different endings can be made up to create a cute nickname
-shachou (社長• しゃちょう) Company president. In the working environment, it is very common to use your boss’s title when referring to them, or other appropriate titles to refer to other workers. You can also use the title as a standalone as well, without attaching it to a name:
福沢社長• ふくざわしゃちょう• Fukuzawa-shachou •Company President Fukuzawa
部長• ぶちょう• Buchou • Department Manager
課長• かちょう• Kachou • Section Chief
会長• かいちょう• Kaichou • President/Chairman
-sensei (先生せんせい) Used to refer to people who have authority in a particular field of knowledge, like a teacher, doctor, artists, musicians, accomplished writers, martial arts leader, etc. It can also be used as a standalone title without the person’s name! Kunikida-san would have been called this by the students in his math classes!
國木田先生• くにきだせんせい• Kunikida-sensei • Prof. Kunikida
-hakase (博士• はかせ) Does this one sound familiar to anyone? I’ve heard it used by Ash in referring to his Pokemon professor in the new Alola anime ^^ Similar to sensei, but this should be used if the teacher has a doctorate’s degree to indicate much higher learning! Like Sensei, it can be used as a standalone title. Literally means Professor, whereas Sensei can be translated as ‘professor’ or ‘teacher’.
-senpai (先輩• せんぱい) Senior. Used to refer to somebody of senior status (more experience) in a school, workplace, or club. It can be used as a title on its own or attached to a name.
kouhai (後輩• こうはい) Junior, the opposite of senior, but you don’t actually use this one as a form of address!! A junior would simply be addressed with their name + kun or some appropriate suffix!
tono (殿• との) Historical title used to refer to a feudal lord or samurai! But mainly used in official documents and certificates now. It becomes ‘-dono’ when attached to a name.
殿• との • Tono • Lord
信長殿• のぶながどの • Nobunaga-dono • Lord Nobunaga
-ue (上• うえ) This literally means above, and gives a high level of respect. It’s not really used anymore, but was commonly used to refer to one’s own mother, father, or sister when speaking to them. I don’t think Chuuya-san uses this term to refer to Kouyou-san…
父上•ちちうえ• chichi-ue • Honored Father
母上• ははうえ• haha-ue • Honored Mother
姉上•あねうえ• ane-ue • Honored Older Sister
You rarely use honorific titles to refer to your own self, unless you want to be seen as arrogant…
Oh, one final note, is that Japanese people rarely say the word ‘you’ when speaking to someone! Unless, of course you’re deliberately being rude, or you don’t know the person’s name and absolutely have to refer to them in some way. Normally, you use the person’s name plus appropriate suffix. So if I was talking to Chuuya-san and wanted to ask him what he ate for lunch, I could say, “Chuuya-san wa nani o tabemashita ka?”, which literally translates to “What did Chuuya-san eat?”, which in English sounds kinda cute when you’re speaking directly to that person. A more natural English translation would be, “What did you eat?”
Wow, Higuchi-san, this took a while! Great question!! I’ll probably get Lesson 1 out tomorrow ^^
This time I decided to properly translate my favourite parts of the interview cause GQ asks all the right questions and Ayano being super easy to understand for once (not that I’m complaining or anything but his interviews for cinema magazines are always a maze of acting theory for me). Also, Ayano x Yamada bromance <3
——This time there were a lot of people with whom you have already acted together, so how was the atmosphere on set?
Takayuki (Yamada Takayuki) is a close person, we have a trusting relationship when I know what is his facial expression right now without even looking at it. For example, I know how far Takayuki will go if he plays Hideyoshi. Same with the action scenes, we trust each other. We go all out until certain degree and if we accidentally hit each other we will just ignore it in a “It’s us so it’s ok” kind of way. Our private relationships became a plus.
When you become this age, it’s not just simple “let’s be friends on set if we friend in real life”. Without even realising it we draw a line. But if you can make the best of your private relationship it’s not a bad thing. If it’s usable you should use it. It’s the same with Fukami-san (Fukami Motoki). It’s my second time with Erika (Sawajiri Erika) too. Akkun (Nobuaki Kaneko and let me fangirl over this cute nickname, Akkun so precious <3) and Yuu (Yamada Yuu) also someone I know in private life. It was my first time acting with Iseya-san (Iseya Yusuke) and Toyohara-san (Toyohara Kosuke) but actually it was good for the role.
——You act in movies, tv-series and on stage, is it hard to “get out” of the role, shade the role off?
I dont’t have a concept of “going out” of a role. All roles I have ever played live inside me. (Ah, always so cool without even trying *-*)
——Do you care whether role is a lead one of if the project small or big in scale?
“Why? Why did you come? You’ve thrown everything I’ve done right out the window by coming! Why have I been–”
“Shut up! ‘Please live’, huh? 'Senpai, please become a normal person’ you say? When did I ever say that’s what I wanted? When did I ever ask for that?”
“You’re being unpleasant! So extremely unpleasant!”
“I think you’re being unpleasant! I refuse to accept this! I don’t need a life at the cost of yours, Kuriyama-san! A future without you means… nothing to me! Are you that oblivious? Were you really that oblivious?”