2004
08.21

This follows on from my previous post on different words for ‘I’ in Japanese.

For a long time I wondered about what type of words were appropriate for ‘we’ in Japanese. Of course, わたしたち (watashi-tachi) is a valid version of ‘we’, but when should we use it and when does it sound too polite?

After some consulatation and observation it seems that for a group of boys or young men, おれたち or the more polite ぼくたち are valid words when used at the right times.

I was told that if a group of people has even one girl in it then うちら (uchira) is a better word for ‘we’. Perhaps, I thought, because using おれたち would imply that the girl were part of a group of men and hence be rude.

So my theory was that any female presence would render おれたち and ぼくたち as invalid or just plain rude.

I was very surprised when I heard a man say to a woman in a TV drama last night, ‘Let’s start from the beginning.’ Why? Because he used ‘おれたち’! So, I asked a different Japanese person…

I was told that the man can use おれたち in this type of situation while the woman would use わたしたち, or うちら as before. This was a bit of a shocking revelation and destroyed my theory. Perhaps the theory holds true outside of ‘couple situations’?

Beware: though it’s natural for a girl to say わたしたち, if you are a guy and you say the same thing then you’ll sound strange because it is so polite. Confused?!



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