A tiny word that makes all the difference to some!

We’ve seen many times before how certain words from the Japanese language have made their way into English, for better or for worse.

But usually that happens from English speakers picking up the new words and using them… not from Japanese people sprinkling them into their English.

Except for one! Japanese Twitter user Takumi Sueda recently posted this, and lots of Japanese people agreed with them:

▼ It’s probably not a word you’d expect,
because by itself it’s not even really a word! (Translation below)

“Apparently non-Japanese people find ‘-san‘ intriguing, and whenever I send them an e-mail with their name followed by -san they get excited like, ‘A real Japanese person used san on my name!’ Since it’s an honorific and not rude or anything, I find it creates a friendly atmosphere. Source: me.”

For anybody who has lived in Japan for a while, having people say your name followed by san is a completely normal thing, just like hearing Mr. or Ms. in front of your name.

But for those who have never been to Japan, or perhaps never even left their country, it must feel like their name is getting some sort of special treatment, or that they’ve suddenly become part of a special club. A special club of single-toe socks and revolutionary ham sandwiches.

▼ Takumi then continued saying that the “san-ing” went even further.
(Translation below)

“At that same place, I was asked ‘Is it rude to not address you using -san?’ I responded, ‘Japanese people understand English naming culture, so you definitely don’t have to use honorifics, but it’s kinda fun if you do so why not?'”

And Takumi was not alone in this experience at all. Other netizens chimed in with agreement:

“Yup. I use it with my American clients and they love it.”
“In the IT world, there are people from too many countries and I can’t tell their gender from their name, so I use -san all the time.”
“I’ve done this. But more often they enjoy san-ing me.”
“Even when I’ve told people to just call me ‘Taka’ they still enjoy calling me ‘Taka-san’ instead.”
“They even like it when I refer to myself using san lol.”
“I’ve used ‘sensei’ instead of ‘professor’ and they loved it.”
“It’s awesome and can be used to address anyone, regardless of gender or affiliation.”

That last one really shows the power of san. It’s always respectful and accurate, no matter who you’re talking to.

In fact, whenever I type e-mails in English, I always miss being able to just say yoroshiku onegai shimasu at the end as a great catch-all sign off. Instead I have to come up with something awkward like “Thank you for your attention to this matter” or “I hope to hear from you soon” or the ultimate sign that you’ve just given up: “Best.”

Yes, I’ll take that addition to English please, as well as all of the other Japanese words with cool origin stories.

Source: Twitter/@puhitaku via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso, Unsplash (Edited by SoraNews24)
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