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Oldwrench, chat 13th Apr


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  Name suffixes


This one is pretty simple. It is just name suffixes. You might want to know them and thier meanings even if they are pretty simple.


I'll start off with names. In Japan surnames come first. So my name being Alex Bluebond would instead be Bluebond Alex. However, sometimes, Japanese people will write their name in the Western style, when they are in the west, so they don't confuse people.


It is very important to remember that you NEVER use suffixes for your own name, since suffixes are polite honorifics - and you never use honorifics for yourself in Japanese.


There are two kinds of suffixes, honorific suffixes and position suffixes. Honorific suffixes indicate how polite you are being towards the person addressed. Position suffixes indicate the status, job or role of the person, which are typically positions of respect.


The honorific suffixes are:

-san: The most common of the suffixes, and it is standard polite Japanese. Bluebond-san would mean Mr. Bluebond, and it is also used for Miss, Mrs. and Ms. This is a useful and honorific title.

-sama: This one is more polite than -san. You will often see it used in letters or business people addressing customers, but is also used in many other formal occasions.

-dono: More honorific than -sama, might be seen in letters, but rarely ever used in conversation any more. Very old fashioned and really only seen in TV period dramas anymore.

-kun: Is age and gender specific. Most often used to address young males (up to about twenty, when it usually gives way to -san), it can also be used to address male friends who are about the same age or to inferiors. Can also be used for females in limited instances, such as a close male/female friends (very slang-like), or a professor talking to a college age female student (very informal feeling).

-chan: Usually used to address young children. Males will typically start getting addressed as -kun around school age by adults. It is also used to address very close friends by people of all ages, and by elder men to address young women (which has a patronizing feel to it.)

-yan: Dialect variant. Has almost the same meaning as -kun or -chan. It is mainly used in the Kinki area of Japan. That includes Osaka.

-han: Dialect variant. Has the same meaning as -san. It is mainly used in the Kinki area of Japan. That includes Osaka.


Some position suffixes are:

-sensei: Traditionally used to address people who hold a position of social respect, such as teachers, instructors, doctors or advisors. Is also used for novelists or mangaka, but usually not actors, directors, or musicians. I have also heard it used on politicians. It literally means "born before," but can be used to address people younger than yourself if they are in a position of respect such as the ones mentioned.

-senpai: Used to address someone in a organization who been around longer in that organization than you, such as your seniors in school.

-zenshu: Used for sports players. Used for all sports except one.

-zeki: Used only for sumo wrestlers. For example Akebono (the only sumo wrestler I know) would be Akebono-Zeki.

-shacho: company president.

-bucho: division head (of a company or a school club).

-kacho: section chief (of a company).

-hancho: group leader (somewhat like a school class leader)

-kakaricho: person in charge (of an event, etc.)


There are times when you will not add a suffix to someone's name, such as:

* A close friend of yours.

* Your spouse or children.

* An Inferior to you in the sense of age or social hierarchy (this needs to be handled with care - if you can really offend someone if used improperly).

* only a part of data (such as address books)


Please note that suffixes are just one of the most obvious parts of Japanese politeness rules, and there are many ways to modify the above list. It is best to be on the safe (polite) side and observe the situation well before shifting to a less polite form.


Edit Akari: Added -senpai, extra info about missing name suffixes

Edit d_limiter: Added and clarified some entries. Amplified Akari's addition.

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