anibee's Guide to Nifty Japanese Words 101! (Vol. 31)

Speaking – Samurai Style!!

IMAGE SOURCE: ORENDSRANGE

So youve done a long Akira Kurosawa movie marathon at your friend's place, read up several Vagabond manga, or perhaps caught the Rurouni Kenshin movie over a dozen times in a row - and you'Â’ve noticed something. That's right; they spoke differently back in the day, with all sorts of different words and even tenses.

We've covered a few phrases used back in the Edo period in previous instalments, so this is going to be a bit of a recap as well. Let's learn some Samurai Stylin' words!

拙者(せっしゃ)

Sessya
"Me"

Back in the day, if you wanted to show you were a totally badass Samurai that had no qualms in being humble, you didn't use "watashi"; you used THIS word! What's not to like about it? It's easy to write, remember, and it sounds totally awesome.

-殿(どの)

- dono
"Mr/Sir/Ms/Ma’am"

An extremely common suffix used in the Edo period, this is pretty much the ancient equivalent of -kun/-san. Generally unisexual, although more often used when addressing male peers and superiors that you're totally pals with.

-で御座る (でござる)

- de gozaru
(Sentence suffix)

Like how Samurai are way too macho to be using any old word when referring to themselves; likewise any old "desu" wouldn't do for them either! This is when you bust off this handy, universal, and extremely authentic sounding phrase... de gozaru!

さらば!

Saraba!
"Farewell!"

Covered back in Volume 19, there's not too much new to add here: this phrase still sounds mega-classy, it's an effective replacement for any word of farewell - and you're likely to get an amused stare from others if you used it in any real life context!

忝い!(かたじけない!)Katajikenai!

"My apologies/I am in your debt!"

Mentioned back in Volume 21, this phrase is still as old-fashioned and extremely polite as it gets. So polite, that most people would half-expect anyone who says this to start kow-towing and banging their heads on the ground before them!

- Q

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