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Japanese Conversation: Perfecting Hotel Japanese 2

December 2, 2009

When learning Japanese conversation, it’s important not to just learn what you need to say, but also what could possibly be said to you. One of the most difficult parts of traveling to Japan was not trying to use the grammar patterns that I’d learn previously, but trying to understand what was being said to me. Memorizing some key phrases that are said in the hotel will not only prepare the Japanese language learner to be able to have a conversation in Japanese, but also help with a basic understanding of keigo Japanese (or formal Japanese). Since all Japanese people in any kind of formal situation use keigo, it’s very important to at least understand the basics.

Keigo literally means “formal language.”  In general, when speaking in keigo, there are different vocabulary words that mean the same thing. For example, instead of saying いいですか? Most people will ask よろしいですか?meaning literally, “is that okay? Is that good?” Another rule when listening for keigo is a lot of words will get either お orご put in front of them. Without further ado, let’s learn some basics of what will be said to you in a Japanese conversation in a hotel.

– いらっしゃいませ this is the most commonly used phrase in both hotels, stores, restaurants, basically anywhere you enter in Japan and could spend money. People will either greet you at the door, or at the check-in counter, by saying this phrase. It literally means “welcome”, but could also be translated as “Can I help you?”

– 何名さまですか?(なんめいさまですか?) the first kanji in this question means “what” (nani) and the second kanji means “name”. When putting these together, the hotel owner is asking literally how many people? To answer this question:

Below is how to answer one person (hitori) through three people (san nin)

一人 ひとり

二人 ふたり

三人 さんにん

– 要約ございますか? Youyaku means reservation in Japanese. You could be asked this question in numerous ways, such as ご (go) could be added to youyaku, or you could be asked ようやくありませんか? (literally, do you have a reservation?). In the example above, Gozaimasuka – is a formal way of saying desuka? Also meaning, “do you have a reservation?” Gozaimasu is the formal version of desu.

– お名前は (onamae wa) The word for name is namae in Japanese, and as mentioned earlier in this article adding an お makes it honorific, or “formal.” So when the hotel steward asks you about your name, they’ll use the honorific word for name, “onamae”. Also in this sentence they’ve dropped the “nandesuka?” (what is?) and shortened it by just using the は.

So when having a Japanese conversation in a hotel it’s important to know both what could be said to you, and what you need to say. In this article you covered the basics of formal Japanese “keigo”, and what could possibly be said to you. Just keep in mind when having a Japanese conversation in a hotel it’s not necessary for you to use keigo, it’s just necessary for you to understand the basic structure to figure out what’s being asked of you.

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