Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Culture: Phrases for Entering a House

Many moons ago, I watched the original Juon (The Grudge) in Japan. At the time I watched it without subtitles and my Japanese wasn't at its best, so whole parts of the plot escaped me. I finally got around to watching it yesterday and it's definitely creepier when you actually understand the nuances.

Anyway, it also reminded me of a couple of handy set phrases you usually don't pick up on unless someone teaches you (in my case it was the movers coming to my house, and me pestering them about what they were saying and why ;) ).

Gomen kudasai (goh men koo dah sigh) - You've probably heard each of these words separately, but together they have a specific meaning: "Is anyone home?/May I come in?". The literal translation would be more like "Begging your pardon," but it's used when you want to enter someone's house, especially to announce yourself if no one's immediately apparent. "Shitsurei shimasu", a similar phrase, is used when entering into a particular room with people in it.

Ojama shimasu (oh jah ma shee mahs) - Literally, "I'm in the way/a bother/disturbing you" but in meaning more like "I'm coming in!" This is used when you actually enter another person's house.

If you happen to catch Juon at some point, you can hear the teacher Kobayashi using these two when he comes to do a house visit with one of his students.

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