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Exercise 2: Observing Refusals in Japanese -2


This time, let’s focus on refusing the request. Unlike invitations, which normally bring some benefits to the hearer, requests usually benefit the speaker rather than the hearer - the speaker is indeed asking a favor of the hearer. 

In the two situations below, two speakers come up to you individually and each asks a favor of you. Write your responses as if you were speaking to them in real life.

Situation 1

You’ve just begun to work part-time in an Western-style family restaurant, and know none of your co-workers very well yet. Your boss, who is the owner of the restaurant, is a man in his late 70s. Today, your boss asks if you can cover for a co-worker tomorrow who just called in sick with the flu. In fact, you have a date scheduled for the first time in three weeks. You know that your boy/girlfriend would understand, but you want to avoid working tomorrow if possible.


Your boss: 実は田中さんが突然、インフルエンザで倒れてしまって困っているんですよ。明日、入れるでしょうか。 Jitsuwa, Tanaka-sanga totsuzen infuruenzade taorete shimatte komatte irun desuyo. Asu haireru deshouka?.

1. You:

Your boss: ああそうですか、わかりました。 Aa, sou desuka, wakarimashita.


2. Listen to a sample dialogue and write down the refusal statement the employee makes to decline the boss’s request.

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Situation 2

Your roommate is a good friend of yours, but she sometimes asks you to loan her some money and does not necessarily pay it back promptly. Today again, she asks you to lend her 3000 yen (about US$25). Because she has not yet paid you back from the last few times you loaned her money, you want to decline her request this time. Besides that, you don’t really have extra money you can give her at this point.

Your roommate: ちょっと頼みがあるんだけどさ、3000円貸してくれない? Chotto tanomiga arundakedosa, sanzen en kashite kurenai?

3. You:

Your roommate: 絶対すぐ返すから。だめ? Zettai sugu kaesu kara. Dame ?

4. You:

5. Listen to a sample dialogue in this situation. What refusal statement does the second speaker makes?

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A dialogue between two male friends may be a lot more direct. Listen to an example.


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6. Note that you are interacting with a boss, someone older and of higher status than you in Situation 1, and with a close, equal-status friend in Situation 2. Both of your interlocutors will be in trouble when you refuse their requests, so you may say that the magnitude of the requests is somewhat major.

Considering such important situational factors in these situations, what are the differences in the language of refusing in the two sample dialogues?

Your section (if applicable)/Your last name, Your first name:
Example: (in a box) 010/Smith, John

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