spaceCenter for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)

Exercise 2: Observing Requests in Japanese - 2

Red Core Strategy
Blue Important Supporting Strategy
Black Aditional Strategies
Green General Strategies

Your response has been submitted to 

Here are some strategies to be noted in this exercise.  Strategies in blue are particularly important supporting strategies.

        Using an appropriate level of politeness

Speakers in these situations are likely to use some degree of honorifics (the desu/masu style) in talking to a host father/mother.  As closeness develops in the relationship, however, no use of honorifics is also appropriate as in the third sample dialogue.

In Exercise 1, we have seen that the age and role/status of the speakers tend to influence the language more often than the magnitude of the request.  The same seems to be true here as well, because there is little difference in the level of politeness between Situation 1 (smaller request) and Situation 2 (larger request).  

         Topic identification, Checking availability, and Being pessimistic

3週間後の日曜日なんですけど、お父さん、忙しいですよね。  Sanshuukangono nichiyoubi nandesu kedo, otousan, isogashii desuyone.

Notice the three strategies being used here. 

1. The speaker identifies the topic, putting the hearer on the same page

3週間後の日曜日なんですけど  Sanshuukangono nichiyoubi nandesu kedo 

This is a commonly used strategy, useful in various situations.

この前のテストのことなんですけれども  kono maeno tesutono koto nandesu keredomo  ‘About the last test’ (in speaking to a college professor)

来週の会議の件なんですが  raishuuno kaigino ken nandesuga  ‘About next week’s meeting’ (in talking to a boss)

Listen to how these expressions sound.

Example 1

Example 2

2. The speaker checks the hearer’s availability (お父さん、忙しいですよね  otousan, isogashii desuyone) even before making the actual request.  This is a face-saving strategy that helps the speaker to avoid asking a request that is impossible for the hearer to comply with.

Listen to some other examples of this strategy.

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Example 4

3. While checking the hearer’s availability, the speaker is also being pessimistic (お父さん、忙しいですよね  otousan, isogashii desuyone ‘You are going to be busy, aren’t you?’).  This makes the speaker sound hesitant and humble, good qualities in making a request in Japanese. 

Submit Your Questions and Comments about Exercise/Website

Go on to Exercise 3

Go Back to Requests Index


Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) • 140 University International Center • 331 17th Ave SE • Minneapolis, MN 55414 | Contact CARLA