Nihongo no Benkyou
By Roisin McGowan
Today’s Topic: Talking on the telephone.
Talking on the telephone in a foreign language is one of the most daunting tasks I have ever faced. But there comes a time when you must book your karaoke venue and time just isn’t on your side.
The reason talking on the phone in Japanese is so difficult is that Japanese telephone etiquette is laced with keigo, the honorific form.
Below are typical phone phrases:
Romaji: Moshi moshi
When you have a relationship with the speaker, e.g. a school, say:
Romaji: Oseiwa ni narimasu
Translation: Thank you for your patronage / always taking care of me.
When you don’t know the person you are calling:
Romaji: Oisogashii tokoro sumimasen
Translation: Sorry for disturbing you at such a busy time.
Always introduce yourself first.
Romaji: Rooshin desu.
Translation: It’s Roisin.
Otherwise, the other person will say:
Romaji: Shitsure desukedo dochira sama desu ka？
Translation: Excuse me but who is speaking?
Romaji: Tanaka Sensei ga irrashaimasu ka?
Translation: Is Tanaka Sensei there?
Romaji: Atode kakenaoshimasu.
Translation: I’ll call back later.
Romaji: Yoyaku wo shitain desukedo…
Translation: I want to make a reservation. (Hotel, karaoke)
Romaji: Wasuremono wo houkokushitai desukedo…
Translation: I want to report a lost item.
A useful guide can be found at: