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Exercise 1: Observing Requests in Japanese -1


Imagine the following situation in which you interact with a speaker of Japanese in Japan.



Now imagine that you are a student at a Japanese university. Last week, you were sick and missed two class sessions for that course. Since the exam is drawing near, you need to get the class notes from someone. Tomoko comes to mind since she is a close friend about your age who is in your class. She is also a nice person and a good note taker.


1. Think for a moment what you would say to Tomoko in an effort to borrow her class notes. Write a request statement that you would make in the box below just as if you were saying it to her directly.


2. Now, let’s listen to a sample dialogue between two friends.  Listen carefully and write down the request statement the first speaker says to make the request.


Click to Listen

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Listen to Another Dialogue

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Situation 2

Suppose that the end of the semester is approaching and you and your friends have decided to go on a trip during the vacation to see other parts of Japan. You have determined that the cheapest and most convenient way to do it would be by car – but only if you can borrow a car from someone. The person who comes to mind is your close friend, Tomohiro, who has a car.

3. Write down a request statement as you would say to Tomohiro.


4. Listen to a sample dialogue between two friends. What does the first speaker say to make the request?

Click to Listen

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5. Let’s review those factors in the “borrowing of class notes” and “borrowing of the car” situations that may influence what you choose to say:


                                                                         Situation 1                     Situation 2

Age difference between the two speakers:      equal                               equal
Role/status difference between the two:          equal                               equal
Closeness or distance between the two:         close                                close
Magnitude of your request:                             smaller                        much larger


Now let’s pay attention to the politeness level of a request. Which level of politeness did you observe above?

貸してくれない/もらえない*? Kashite kurenai/moraenai*?          No keigo (no honorifics)
貸してくれ/もらえませんか? Kashite kure/morae masenka?    Desu/masu style honorifics
貸してくださいませんか?     Kashite kudasai masenka?          Respect style honorifics
貸していただけませんか?   Kashite itadake masenka?           Humble style honorifics

* moraeru is slightly more polite than kureru.


Judging from the sample dialogues, what situational factor(s) might have a largest impact on the language of requesting in Japanese? In what way(s) are the two dialogues similar and/or different?


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

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