Saturday, September 15, 2007

Expressions Used in Letters

The difference between written language and conversational language in Japanese is much greater than in English. Japanese letters often use classical grammar patterns which are seldom used in conversation. Although there are no particular rules when writing to close friends, there are many set expressions and honorific expressions (keigo) used in formal letters. A conversational style is not usually used when writing formal letters.

Opening and Closing Words

The opening and closing words in letters, which are similar to English's "Dear" and "Sincerely" etc., come in pairs.
- Haikei - Keigu 拝啓 - 敬具
The most common pair used in formal letters. Women sometimes use "Kashiko(かしこ)" as a closing word instead of "Keigu."
- Zenryaku - Sousou 前略 - 草々
This pair is less formal. It is usually used when you don't have time to write a long letter, so that the preliminary greetings are omitted. "Zenryaku" literally means, "omitting the preliminary remarks."

Preliminary Greetings

- Ogenki de irasshaimasu ka お元気でいらっしゃいますか (very formal)
- Ogenki desu ka お元気ですか
Have you been doing well?

- Ikaga osugoshi de irasshaimasu ka いかがお過ごしでいらっしゃいますか (very formal)
- Ikaga osugoshi desu ka いかがお過ごしですか
How have you been?

- Okagesama de genki ni shite orimasu おかげさまで元気にしております (very formal)
Fortunately I'm doing well.

- Kazoku ichidou genki ni shite orimasu 家族一同元気にしております
The whole family is doing well.

- Otegami arigatou gozaimashita お手紙ありがとうございました
Thank you for your letter.

- Nagai aida gobusata shite orimashite moushiwake gozaimasen
長い間ご無沙汰しておりまして申し訳ございません(very formal)
I apologize for neglecting to write for such a long time.

Gobusata shite orimasu ご無沙汰しております
I'm sorry I haven't written for a long time.

These expressions or seasonal greetings can be combined in a variety of ways to form the preliminary greeting. The Japanese have long admired the seasonal changes, therefore it seems too abrupt to start a letter without the proper seasonal greeting. Here are some examples.

- Gobusata shite orimasu ga, ogenki de irasshaimasu ka
I'm sorry I haven't written for a long time, but have you been doing well?

Sukkari aki rashiku natte mairimashita ga, ikaga osugoshi de irasshaimasu ka.
It has become very autumn like; how have you been?

Samui hi ga tsuzuite orimasu ga,ikaga osugoshi desu ka.
Cold days continue; how have you been?

Final Greetings
- Douka yoroshiku onegai itashimasu どうかよろしくお願いします。
Kindly look after this matter for me.

~ ni yoroshiku otsutae kudasai ~によろしくお伝えください。
Please give my regards to ~.

Minasama ni douzo yoroshiku 皆様にどうぞよろしく。
Please give my regards to everyone.

Okarada o taisetsu ni お体を大切に。
Please take care of yourself.

Douzo ogenki de どうぞお元気で。
Take care of yourself.

Ohenji omachi shite orimasu お返事お待ちしております。
I look forward to hearing from you.

1 comment:

angin-berbisik said...

salam kenal nan hangat....thx dah mampir ke blogku....

douzo ogenki de :P