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Exercise 9: Simulation Exercise for Apologizing – 1

Another important strategy is to be aware of the way you present your reason.

Japanese university students first tended to give a generic reason using a formulaic expression. Then as the professor asks for more detail, they gave more specifics. Note that a lengthy presentation of a reason/reasons may give the hearer the impression that the speaker is self-centered or justifying the cancellation (which the student is not really entitled to).

Japanese students also used certain strategies to communicate their lack of intention to cause the infraction.  

  • They often use jitsuwa ‘actually’ before introducing the specific reason to prepare the professor for the upcoming reason. 

Prof. Ito: Doshitandesuka? ‘What happened?’

Student: Jitsuwa shitekina kotodesuga, kesa jikkano chichiga taoremashite, hahakara suguni kaette kite hoshiito iwaremashite...imakara sugunidemo kaeranakereba narimasen. Houtouni kyuude moushiwake arimasenga.  

‘Actually, it is a private matter, but my father passed out this morning, and my mother wants me to come home as soon as possible. So I have to leave right now. I’m sorry that I’m canceling your appointment at the last minute.’  

  • The use of …shimatta implies that they had no control over what happened or that something came up/happened despite their intentions.


Student: Sumimasen, kyouni natte totsuzen tsugouga tsukanaku natte shimattanndesu. ‘I’m sorry but some inconvenience occurred today.’



These data in Exercise 9 are based on a study by Hayashi (1999).


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