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Naomi: なおみです。(Naomi desu.)
Eric: Eric here. Welcome to JapanesePod101.com. Newbie series Lori’s story 1. My name is Eric and I am joined by Naomi-sensei.
Naomi: はい、こんにちは。(Hai, kon’nichiwa.)
Eric: こんにちは。よろしくお願いします。(Kon’nichiwa. Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.)
Naomi: よろしくお願いします。(Yoroshiku onegai shimasu.)
Eric: Now this is a new newbie series. The previous newbie series Nihongo Dojo focused on grammar but in this course, we will have more situation-based lessons. So what grammar point are we covering today?
Naomi: 今日は (kyō wa) the usage of お願いします (onegai shimasu).
Eric: That’s right. お願いします (onegai shimasu) in the context of asking for a favor or requesting something.
Naomi: That’s right.
Eric: And the conversation takes place at
Naomi: 成田空港。(Narita Kūkō.) Narita international airport.
Eric: And the conversation is between?
Naomi: ロリー (Rorī) and 係員 (kakariin).
Eric: That’s right Lori and the customs official. All right. Let’s take a listen.
(成田空港) (Narita Kūkō)
係員 (kakariin) : パスポート、お願いします。(Pasupōto, onegai shimasu.)
ロリー (Rorī) : ...え?すみません。もう一度、お願いします。(... E? Sumimasen. Mō ichi-do, onegai shimasu.)
係員 (kakariin) : パ・ス・ポ・ー・ト、お願い します。(Pa su pō to, onegai shimasu.)
ロリー (Rorī) : ...あ、はい。(...A, hai.)
係員 (kakariin) : スーツケース、お願いします。(Sūtsukēsu, onegai shimasu.)
ロリー (Rorī) : すみません。...ゆっくり、お願いします。(Sumimasen. ...Yukkuri, onegai shimasu.)
もう一度お願いします。ゆっくりお願いします。(Mō ichi-do onegai shimasu. Yukkuri onegai shimasu.)
係員 (kakariin) : パスポート、お願いします。(Pasupōto, onegai shimasu.)
ロリー (Rorī) : ...え?すみません。もう一度、お願いします。(... E? Sumimasen. Mō ichi-do, onegai shimasu.)
係員 (kakariin) : パ・ス・ポ・ー・ト、お願い します。(Pa su pō to, onegai shimasu.)
ロリー (Rorī) : ...あ、はい。(...A, hai.)
係員 (kakariin) : スーツケース、お願いします。(Sūtsukēsu, onegai shimasu.)
ロリー (Rorī) : すみません。...ゆっくり、お願いします。(Sumimasen. ...Yukkuri, onegai shimasu.)
今度は、英語が入ります。(Kondo wa, Eigo ga hairimasu.)
(成田空港) (Narita Kūkō)
(Narita International Airport)
係員 (kakariin) : パスポート、お願いします。(Pasupōto, onegai shimasu.)
CUSTOMS OFFICER: Your passport, please.
ロリー (Rorī) : ...え?すみません。もう一度、お願いします。(... E? Sumimasen. Mō ichi-do, onegai shimasu.)
LORI: Uh... Excuse me. Could you say that again?
係員 (kakariin) : パ・ス・ポ・ー・ト、お願い します。(Pa su pō to, onegai shimasu.)
ロリー (Rorī) : ...あ、はい。(...A, hai.)
LORI: Oh...O.K.
係員 (kakariin) : スーツケース、お願いします。(Sūtsukēsu, onegai shimasu.)
CUSTOMS OFFICER: Your suitcase, please.
ロリー (Rorī) : すみません。...ゆっくり、お願いします。(Sumimasen. ...Yukkuri, onegai shimasu.)
LORI: Excuse me...Could you speak slowly?
Naomi: Eric-san, what did you think about today’s conversation?
Eric: Yeah, I think that that’s a typical conversation that happens at Narita airport. I think I have had it.
Naomi: Oh really? Are the customs officials nice to you?
Eric: Oh yeah, they are good people.
Naomi: Do they speak Japanese to you or English?
Eric: Well you see that’s a thing, that’s a thing. There are two levels of customs when you get to the airport. When you first get in right, you are in this huge long line and you are waiting for the person who stamps your ticket, gives your visa and takes your blood samples, urine samples and all that and then those people, they speak only Japanese at least from my experience. No matter what you say or what you do, they will still say パスポートお願いします (pasupōto onegai shimasu) and stuff like that and then when you get down to the guy who is looking for the seeds with the gloves and everything and they will speak to you in any language you want and they will speak to you in English, yeah. So it’s a big difference.
Naomi: Oh wow, that's useful information for listeners.
Eric: All right. On to the vocab. Naomi-sensei, the first word is
Naomi: パスポート (pasupōto)
Eric: Passport.
Naomi: (slow) パスポート (pasupōto) (natural speed) パスポート (pasupōto)
Eric: All right and the next word is a phrase.
Naomi: お願いします (onegai shimasu)
Eric: Please.
Naomi: (slow) おねがいします (onegai shimasu) (natural speed) お願いします (onegai shimasu)
Eric: And the next phrase.
Naomi: すみません (sumimasen)
Eric: Excuse me, I am sorry, thank you.
Naomi: (slow) すみません (sumimasen) (natural speed) すみません (sumimasen)
Eric: And the next word is
Naomi: もう一度 (mō ichi-do)
Eric: All right. Now this is a combination of two words of which the first word is
Naomi: もう (mō)
Eric: And the second
Naomi: 一度 (ichi-do)
Eric: And the first
Naomi: もう (mō)
Eric: Again もう (mō) and the second
Naomi: 一度 (ichi-do)
Eric: One time, once. Combined?
Naomi: もう一度 (mō ichi-do)
Eric: One more time. And the next word is
Naomi: スーツケース (sūtsukēsu)
Eric: Suitcase.
Naomi: (slow) スーツケース (sūtsukēsu) (natural speed) スーツケース (sūtsukēsu)
Eric: And the next word is
Naomi: ゆっくり (yukkuri)
Eric: Slowly.
Naomi: (slow) ゆっくり (yukkuri) (natural speed) ゆっくり (yukkuri)
Eric: All right. Now we are going to take a look at some of the vocabulary and phrases from today’s dialogue. Before we go into the next session, I really want to emphasize that when you are learning these vocabularies, don’t just learn the words, also learn the pitch accent. The intonation of the word because that’s really important and the meaning is not going to change but people won’t understand you if you say, like a word with a completely different pitch accent especially older people. Even younger people, they will have no idea what you are talking about. You know like... Hey Naomi, are you liberal?
Naomi: Ah.
Eric: Are you liberal?
Naomi: 何?(Nani?)
Eric: Liberal, see? If I say liberal like liberal or something, nobody understands what I am saying, right? Okay, same thing in Japanese. So let’s take a closer look at some of the vocabulary and phrases from today’s dialogue. The first phrase we will look at is
Naomi: すみません (sumimasen)
Eric: And the pitch accent is
Naomi: すみません (sumimasen)
Eric: All right. So let’s break this apart. You notice that the tone went up on the second syllable み (mi), すみません (sumimasen) and it came back down on the last ん (n). A lot of Japanese words have that pattern of starting off low and getting higher and maybe coming back down at the end but just make sure that you know you are learning it correctly and what does すみません (sumimasen) mean?
Naomi: Excuse me, I am sorry and thank you.
Eric: I am sorry and thank you?
Naomi: はい。(Hai.)
Eric: Those are two opposite words. What’s the deal, Naomi-sensei?
Naomi: When people say thank you, they are thinking like I feel guilty because you’ve been so nice to me.
Eric: Ah okay so they are almost sorry for receiving an active gratitude. They are really thanking you but it’s an unwanted act of gratitude that people give you all of a sudden. So for example, if you are sitting in the train, you got a bunch of heavy stuff with you and somebody stands up and gives you their seat, then you won’t say ありがとう (arigatō) or ありがとうございます (arigatō gozaimasu). Then you will say すみません (sumimasen), right?
Naomi: I feel guilty or I owe you a lot. I owe you a lot.
Eric: That’s right. It’s almost like you are indebted to somebody. You almost feel like you owe them something. So you are saying like oh, I am really sorry. For you to take the trouble to do something when I didn’t even ask for it. That’s probably the reasoning behind you know but yeah you use it all the time and you know, when I am walking around the town and everything, I don’t – I never usually hear people say すみません (sumimasen). I hear them...
Naomi: Ah…
Eric: Like how do you say it, Naomi?
Naomi: すいません。(Suimasen)
Eric: Right, right. You don't say すみま (sumima)... – you say like すいません (suimasen). I have heard people say すいません (suimasen).
Naomi: そう。(Sō.) And then some people might say すんません (sunmasen).
Eric: Is that wrong?
Naomi: When you write it, it’s wrong.
Eric: Right.
Naomi: But when you are saying it, people use it.
Eric: You know what, I think it’s a lot like the word in English gonna like we say it all the time. I am gonna go there, I am gonna do this, I am gonna do that. I am gonna, like I am gonna to do this. You never write that down because it would seem ridiculous and you know, people will be like what the heck is this but you know, you say it and a lot of people don’t even know they are saying it.
Naomi: そうですね。(Sō desu ne.)
Eric: There was a study. According to a survey, 50% of the people admit that they use すいません (suimasen) in the daily conversation.
Naomi: 50%? I thought that’s more than that.
Eric: No yeah right. Isn’t that kind of low? For me, I think most people use it. You know especially when you need to apologize to somebody; you are not going to say all those syllables. You are not going to say すみません (sumimasen) which reminds me guys practice is what you practice because when you really need to apologize, you are going to be jumping, tripping over your own tongue. This is a tongue twister すみません (sumimasen). You won’t even realize it until you are really sorry for something. You are going to be saying like ~ません (-masen). Nobody will know what you are saying.
Naomi: すいません。すみません。(Suimasen. Sumimasen.)
Eric: Thank you, Naomi-sensei. The next word is
Naomi: はい (hai)
Eric: And the accent?
Naomi: (slow) はい (hai) (natural speed) はい (hai)
Eric: So it starts high and goes low. So はい (hai) can mean yes or I agree with you or okay or here et cetera. Anything that’s sort of agreeing, affirming, right? So how do you say no in Japanese?
Naomi: いいえ (iie)
Eric: Say it one more time?
Naomi: いいえ (iie)
Eric: All right, so the accent goes up on the second syllable. One more time, Naomi-sensei?
Naomi: (slow) いいえ (iie) (natural speed) いいえ (iie)
Eric: いいえ (iie) means no but it doesn’t mean exactly the same as the English no, right?
Naomi: Um..
Eric: For example, you can’t say いいえ (iie)... you can’t say いいえ (iie) smoking.
Naomi: そうですね。(Sō desu ne.)
Eric: Doesn’t make any sense, right?
Naomi: No.
Eric: Yeah, so はい (hai) and いいえ (iie), those are very polite expressions. And in a casual situation, はい (hai) becomes
Naomi: うん (un)
Eric: It almost sounds... at first, person is speaking when I first heard the word うん (un) I thought people were just mumbling at me. I would ask one of my Japanese friends like hey, I think you want to go do this and they were like うん (un) and I was like come on, man. Can’t you at least….
Naomi: Response…
Eric: Yeah can’t you at least properly respond to my question you know and it turns out that they were just saying うん (un). They were saying yes in Japanese to me.
Naomi: Yeah.
Eric: You know. They were never saying yes or anything. So yeah it’s really easy. Say it again.
Naomi: うん (un)
Eric: Right it’s written うん (un), but you can say it with your mouth closed. You can just say うん (un).
Naomi: そうですね。うん。(Sō desu ne. Un.)
Eric: Right and how about いいえ (iie)? How do you say that casually?
Naomi: いや (iya) or ううん (ūn).
Eric: Okay, you see いや (iya), that’s pretty easy but it’s pretty confusing because it sounds like yeah.
Naomi: Yeah, right.
Eric: Yes, but it’s a little short, it’s いや (iya).
Naomi: いや (iya)
Eric: And then you kind of cut it off over there, いや (iya) but the second one that you said, what is it?
Naomi: ううん (ūn)
Eric: That sounds a lot like um.
Naomi: あ~、そうですね。(Ā, sō desu ne.) But little bit longer vowel.
Eric: Exactly. It sounds like, more like a no like uhh, uh. In English, we have the uhh.
Naomi: あ~、そっか。(Ā, sokka.)
Eric: Except that the uh, this is important, the pitch. What’s the pitch of uh?
Naomi: ううん (ūn)
Eric: Huhn. Wow!
Naomi: That’s right.
Eric: I am getting confused between the Um and Japanese ううん (ūn) It’s similar, it’s similar. So all you got to do is extend the うん (un) to ううん (ūn). Alright, so we have はい (hai), いいえ (iie) and うん (un) and ううん (ūn) or いや (iya). Now for example, okay, when I am watching people talk or when I am talking to somebody, the listeners usually says うんうん (un un) or はいはい (hai hai), all the time.
Naomi: Yeah.
Eric: Even while I am talking, what’s going on there? What is that, Naomi-sensei?
Naomi: This is how we communicate.
Eric: Yeah, but are they listening to me?
Naomi: Yeah, they do. That’s why they are saying うん (un) or ううん (ūn).
Eric: Okay so…
Naomi: So maybe a totally different idea from English culture.
Eric: So what is it? Is there a rule for that like after every period, after every comma.
Naomi: I would say women tend to say うん (un) or ううん (ūn) more often than men but there is no clear rule.
Eric: And what I noticed – what seems obvious to me is that when you really understand the point of what the speaker is saying, you tend to say はいはいはい (hai hai hai), more often like oh はいはいはいはい (hai hai hai hai) oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. While they are talking, this goes on while they are talking folks. So don’t be afraid to interrupt people in that way by saying はいはいはい (hai hai hai) or うんうんうん (un un un), yes I understand what you are saying. If you don’t, the other person might say, like, hey are you listening to me?'
Naomi: Exactly.
Eric: Right, right and there is a term for this.
Naomi: 相槌 (aizuchi)
Eric: 相槌 (aizuchi)
Naomi: あいづち (aizuchi)
Eric: 相槌 (aizuchi), try it out guys if you are having a conversation in Japanese. All right, now let’s take a closer look at the grammar used in this lesson.

Lesson focus

Eric: So Naomi-sensei, what did we cover in this lesson?
Naomi: お願いします (onegai shimasu)
Eric: And the pitch accent?
Naomi: おねがいします (onegai shimasu)
Eric: All right. It goes up on the second syllable and it sort of comes down at the end but the last す (su) it’s unvoiced. So you can just make the S sound and you will be cool.
Naomi: お願いします (onegai shimasu)
Eric: Very good, Naomi-sensei. Where did you learn Japanese?
Naomi: ありがとう。 (Arigatō.)
Eric: Wow okay. So お願い (onegai) means request and します (shimasu) means to do in the masu-form. So お願いします (onegai shimasu) together, it’s a set phrase and it literally, it means I request you to do something, okay? That’s the straight direct literal translation. And… but you never usually use it just by itself. You don’t use it just as it is right. You have to – it has to be in the context of asking for a favor.
Naomi: そうですね。(Sō desu ne.) That’s right.
Eric: So for example, let’s take a look at the conversation between Lori and the 係員 (kakariin), the customs official. So Naomi-sensei, what did the 係員 (kakariin) ask for? What did he say?
Naomi: パスポート、お願いします。(Pasupōto, onegai shimasu.)
Eric: Okay, so literally passport please and then what did Lori say?
Naomi: もう一度、お願いします。(Mō ichi-do, onegai shimasu.)
Eric: One more time, please. So this guy is asking for a passport. Lori is asking for an action on behalf of this guy. So basically you can use お願いします (onegai shimasu) to ask for anything intangible objects, requests, favors, actions from people, all sorts of things. It’s a very useful phrase. Magic phrase.
Naomi: あー、そう。(Ā, sō.) Magic phrase.
Eric: Yeah, yeah there again.
Naomi: You can get anything.
Eric: Just say お願いします (onegai shimasu) and you can get anything you want. All right, anything your heart desires, right Naomi?
Naomi: はい。(Hai.)
Eric: All right. Let’s take a look at it to see how you can use this magic phrase, okay Naomi-sensei?
Naomi: はい。(Hai.)
Eric: Which I’ve got here to this amazing curry restaurant down on the corner and okay we ordered our food but what about our drinks? You look thirsty. What would you like?
Naomi: But I don’t have enough money for ordering food.
Eric: I got a card. Just tell the waiter what you want?
Naomi: あー、でも、水、お願いします。(Ā, demo, mizu, onegai shimasu.)
Eric: I think I could pay for that. You know the waiter is over there gossiping with that other guy. We want our menus. We want our menus.
Naomi: メニュー、お願いします。(Menyū, onegai shimasu.)
Eric: That’s right. We are asking for the menu and wow, this curry looks great. I think I am going to get this one. How about you, Naomi-sensei? You want to get…
Naomi: Yeah, yeah I am going to get this one too.
Eric: All right. So let’s order, let’s order.
Naomi: 注文、お願いします。(Chūmon, onegai shimasu.)
Eric: That’s right 注文 (chūmon) to order and wow! This curry was amazing. Let’s pay. Let’s get out of here and we got to pay the bill, right?
Naomi: 会計、お願いします。(Kaikei, onegai shimasu.)
Eric: Check please.
Naomi: If you don’t know the name of the object, you can say これ (kore)
Eric: Which means this.
Naomi: Or this one.
Eric: Right. So that’s how I always order stuff.
Naomi: 本当?(Hontō?)
Eric: Yeah. I mean because yeah in Japanese menus, they always have a picture of the stuff right and even if I know the name, I just – you know the waiter is right there in front of you. I just point that and say これ、お願いします (kore, onegai shimasu).
Naomi: The easiest way.
Eric: Right yeah. I mean the guy understands. They all know what I am talking about. Okay, so you just saw a couple of ways that you can ask for things – actual real objects, water, a menu asking to order, asking for the bill but you know, when you don’t know, you just use the generic これ (kore) into this or you know, if you are asking for something else farther away, you ask for that それ、お願いします (sore, onegai shimasu) and if you are asking for something that’s behind the counter or something, but yeah お願いします (onegai shimasu). Magical. Magical, this is the way you would put some sound effects for the magic. Okay, I hope you do that.


Eric: I will see you guys next time.
Naomi: じゃあ、また!(Jā, mata!)


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