Recently, a Twitter user snapped a photo of an interesting sign on their train platform. The station worker at this particular stop might need to review their basic Japanese grammar.


It reads, “お客様には大変ご迷惑しております.”
“Okyaku-sama ni wa taihen gomeiwaku shite orimasu.”

Or in other words, “The patrons are causing us many problems.”

For all you Japanese language buffs out there, do you see the mistakes? That is… if the message was a mistake at all. Here are some helpful grammar hints, just in case you want to avoid telling masses of people that they’re in your way.

First, the Japanese particle “ni” (に) is commonly used as a marker for places and indirect objects in a sentence. However, it can also be used as a subject marker in the sort of formal speech often found on signs and alert messages aimed at a wide audience. When you add は, pronounced “wa,” after “ni”, it adds emphasis to the preceding subject. This makes the sign read as though a disgruntled conductor is telling off the commuters who were clogging up the train lines.

Another Freudian grammar slip was with the verb at the end of the sentence. “Shite orimasu” (-しております) is the formal way of saying that an action is being done continuously, much like the English “-ing” form. The message is therefore implying in polite language that the subject of the sentence (the patrons) were at fault for continuing to cause difficulties (for the train station). The nice thing about the Japanese language is that you don’t even have to state who’s the one most inconvenienced in this situation. It’s already implied that it’s the station workers who are being put upon because of all the dang people that insist on riding their trains!

For a bit of extra reading on particles, which are some of the most difficult parts of speech for Westerners learning Japanese, Tim-sensei’s Corner has a good review sheet.

Ostensibly, this particular goof-up was a simple mistake on the part of the worker who was writing the message on the platform projector. But after a crowded rush hour on one of the JR lines, I could see any train attendant going a bit postal.
Source: Naver Matome
Top image: Railway Technology