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English names with honorifics

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Hello! Say I am an English speaking person (we'll call me John Smith) and I go to Japan. When I get to Japan and my scheduled transport arrives, let's say the driver greets me by saying "Hello, Mr. John Smith", except he says it in Japanese.

Now, first of all, since he is technically "working" for me, by being a driver, he would use "sama" instead of "san", right?

Second, would he use my first name, last name, or both?

John Smith-sama/san
John-sama/san
Smith-sama/san

From what I've learned, Japanese people generally refer to foreigners by their first name. Or am I off base there? This is for a literature piece I'm writing, and I just think that John-sama/san sounds weird, but I don't want to be inaccurate by using Smith instead.

Thanks for any help!
 

Mike Cash

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If you're important enough to have somebody send a driver to meet you at the airport then you're important enough that whoever is expecting you (and arranged your transport) will be on hand at the airport to meet your flight and accompany you to your lodgings to make sure things go without a hitch. The driver would most likely not address you at all, unless an employee of the concern you're visiting or in some other way connected to them or you. If he did have to refer to you (or address you), he would probably use "okyakusama" instead of your name, if he were a hired driver, or the title of your position if there is a professional/business connection. If you don't rate a title (CEO, VP, Dr., Professor, etc) then the chances that anybody is sending a hired car and driver to the airport to pick you up are slim to none, so the question becomes moot.

So, just who is John Smith and just who the hell is he to the people he is coming to see? What the driver will call him and whether he will speak to him at all depend on that.

By the way, you overlook the fact he is very likely to be addressed as "Mr. Smith".....
 

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Now, first of all, since he is technically "working" for me, by being a driver, he would use "sama" instead of "san", right?
It totally depends on the person. They might use -san.

Second, would he use my first name, last name, or both?
John Smith-sama/san
John-sama/san
Smith-sama/san
Those are all possible.

The following thread might be interesting for you.
https://jref.com/forum/%89p%8C%EA%9...-about-calling-person-his-her-name-san-47511/
 
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If you're important enough to have somebody send a driver to meet you at the airport then you're important enough that whoever is expecting you (and arranged your transport) will be on hand at the airport to meet your flight and accompany you to your lodgings to make sure things go without a hitch. The driver would most likely not address you at all, unless an employee of the concern you're visiting or in some other way connected to them or you. If he did have to refer to you (or address you), he would probably use "okyakusama" instead of your name, if he were a hired driver, or the title of your position if there is a professional/business connection. If you don't rate a title (CEO, VP, Dr., Professor, etc) then the chances that anybody is sending a hired car and driver to the airport to pick you up are slim to none, so the question becomes moot.

So, just who is John Smith and just who the hell is he to the people he is coming to see? What the driver will call him and whether he will speak to him at all depend on that.

By the way, you overlook the fact he is very likely to be addressed as "Mr. Smith".....
Can you not arrange a taxi or something for yourself in Japan? And the reason the driver would say the name would be like a confirmation that he found the right person. So, I guess it would be more like a "John Smith?"

So it'd be more common to hear "Konnichiwa Mr. Smith"?
 

Mike Cash

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Can you not arrange a taxi or something for yourself in Japan? And the reason the driver would say the name would be like a confirmation that he found the right person. So, I guess it would be more like a "John Smith?"

So it'd be more common to hear "Konnichiwa Mr. Smith"?
You get a taxi at the taxi stand, whichever one happens to be at the head of the line, like everybody else. There's no need to arrange a taxi beforehand. The driver will neither know nor care what your name is.

Most people take one of the many convenient trains or buses from the airport.

If Mr. John Smith's Japanese is good enough that he googled a taxi company near the airport, telephoned them, and talked with a dispatcher to arrange for a taxi to meet him, then this once again all becomes sort of moot, don't you think?

One thing you have to factor in is that many (perhaps most) people here aren't terribly clear on which foreign names are surnames and which are given names. You're as likely to get called by one as the other. Sometimes by people who assume foreigners are all so casual we only like to be addressed by our first names, sometimes by people who think they're being polite and using your surname when they're not, and sometimes by people who think they're using your first name when they're not. It doesn't pay to get uptight about it, as offense is never intended.
 
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No offense, but have you been to Japan since (and again, no offense) it sounds like you've got somewhat of a caricature of Japan in your mind? Perhaps I've got it completely wrong, in which case I apologize.
 
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No offense, but have you been to Japan since (and again, no offense) it sounds like you've got somewhat of a caricature of Japan in your mind? Perhaps I've got it completely wrong, in which case I apologize.
I don't know what caricature you think I'm painting.

It looks like I made the mistake of thinking this one-on-one interaction was possible in Japan, is all. I didn't really have a reason to think it was unheard of to prepare some form of transport after a flight. I mean, sure Japanese people might not do it, but, per my example, John Smith is not Japanese. I guess it's also unheard of to check that the person you are driving is the person you made preparations with? I'm not really sure where I went so wrong.

There really weren't any pre-conceived notions in my example. I think everyone's under the impression that John Smith is completely in-tune with Japanese customs, which isn't the case. In the United States, calling for a taxi ahead of time is completely normal, so there's no reason for it not to be normal in this situation (for the American, at least). If it's simply not possible to do this in Japan, that's one thing, but no one has said it was so far.

Anyway. This has gotten far off topic. I just simply wanted to know how a driver would greet a passenger IF he were to address the passenger by name.
 

Mike Cash

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What airport is he flying into that wouldn't have a line of taxis out front waiting for passengers? I don't know about other countries, but here in Japan one would never need to arrange a taxi beforehand. I can't even imagine doing that here.

As I mentioned earlier, if this person is an important personage, then you get two different scenarios....one with a hired driver and one without....and two different situations regarding whether John Smith would be addressed at all by the driver.

The Japanese language is VERY context-driven and your question....although it may appear simple to you...is not simple to answer without knowing the status and interrelations of everybody involved. Based on the situation as posited:

1. Smith wouldn't have a cab arranged (unrealistic situation)
2. Even if he did, the company would send a cabbie who would almost certainly say "Mr. Smith?"
3. Even if Smith speaks Japanese, that first confirmation would be the sole time the cabbie used Smith's name to refer to him, (switching to a polite and generic quasi-pronoun like "okyakusama" for all future instances of both addressing and referring to him.
4. If anybody is meeting him at the airport:
a. They will arrange transportation and if hired (taxi/limo) the driver will have no occasion to speak to him at all.
b. If the greeters are picking up in personal or company owned vehicles then:
ア. If personally owned, then the greeters are family and will probably use first name + san
イ. If company owned then what each person calls him (and the extent to which they speak to him...if at all) is governed by their relative positions, whether they are employed by the same firm or are in a client/customer relationship, etc. It is conceivable that even in this case the guy brought along to drive is a lower-level flunky with brains enough to not speak to Smith unless spoken to by Smith.

So if reality is what you're going here, have Smith grab a can at the airport taxi stand, have the cabbie speak as much or as little English as you like, have him be as garrulous or as reticent as you like. But don't have him addressing Smith by name. It's implausible.

Anyway, expecting the driver to pick Smith out of a crowd of arriving passengers is unrealistic. The typical arrangement (the world over) is for the person doing the pickup to hold a sign with the arriving party's name on it. Smith would approach the driver and announce himself to the driver....not the other way around.
 
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Again, it's normal to do so in the United States. Yes, there are shuttles and buses and whatnot. But it's normal to prepare transport, especially if you need to be somewhere at a certain time. I never said he "needed" to. It's just what he did because as an American citizen, to him it's normal. No, it's not normal in Japan. But, to someone not from Japan, it very well may be normal. Yes, a bus/shuttle/train/random taxi could have been used. But he decided to call one in. He's not familiar with Japan's airports. He doesn't know how long he'll have to wait for transportation if he doesn't prepare it ahead of time. You even said:

I don't know about other countries,
Well, neither does Smith. So this was a safe option for him.

The person isn't important. It's simply a guy who called and said "Hey. Can I have a cab pick me up from the airport at this time?" And that's it. No family or business arrangements. No fancy titles or anything.

And I'm sorry I didn't specify this sooner, but yes, the driver has a sign. Smith sees it and walks towards him. The driver simply confirms that it's Smith before Smith says anything. Honestly, I don't even consider that a cultural thing. There are people in the world with more initiative than others. Is it so crazy to think the driver would ask someone that was approaching him who he was? Or is taxi driving a career that requires a high degree of training, in which the driver learns not to say anything unless prompted?

I know that my example is in English, but that's for obvious reasons. When the taxi driver addresses Smith, it's in Japanese.

I know I probably sound hostile, and I really don't mean to, but the extent to which you are picking apart my example is just silly. You say that Japanese is context-sensitive and I understand that, but what's complicating the matter is the assumptions you are making rather than just taking the example at face-value. A normal guy NOT from Japan calls in for a taxi. That's all.
 
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I don't know what caricature you think I'm painting.

It looks like I made the mistake of thinking this one-on-one interaction was possible in Japan, is all. I didn't really have a reason to think it was unheard of to prepare some form of transport after a flight. I mean, sure Japanese people might not do it, but, per my example, John Smith is not Japanese. I guess it's also unheard of to check that the person you are driving is the person you made preparations with? I'm not really sure where I went so wrong.

There really weren't any pre-conceived notions in my example. I think everyone's under the impression that John Smith is completely in-tune with Japanese customs, which isn't the case. In the United States, calling for a taxi ahead of time is completely normal, so there's no reason for it not to be normal in this situation (for the American, at least). If it's simply not possible to do this in Japan, that's one thing, but no one has said it was so far.

Anyway. This has gotten far off topic. I just simply wanted to know how a driver would greet a passenger IF he were to address the passenger by name.
As I said, no offense intended.

As someone who has been picked up a variety of times here it just doesn't seem like any of the scenarios you listed were all that plausible, for all the reasons Mike listed.

Generally, when I've had a driver pick me up, they don't talk to me. Usually, though, a representative of the organization I'm meeting with is there too, and they meet me with a sign if they haven't met me personally before.

The caricature I'm seeing is this whole driver is employee who will address me such and such. It just isn't that simple. A significant number of Japanese have just as little idea of how to address an American as most Americans have of how to address Japanese. I've had everything from just my first name to mr+first+last+san, and all possible permutations by all types of people.

Then there's the "I'm learning English" cab drivers who will chat with you the whole time about whatever. Cab drivers are like cab drivers everywhere. They want to know where you're going and that's mostly it unless they want to practice their English (usually when you're in a bad mood after missing the last train and suddenly needing to waste a bunch of money on a cab).

A normal guy NOT from Japan calls in for a taxi. That's all.
If John has the language level necessary to handle ordering a taxi by phone in advance, the likely hood that he thinks he needs to do so is virtually nil. Also, the taxi driver is sitting outside in his cab waiting for the clueless guy who called for him instead of just grabbing a cab.
 
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nahadef

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I don't know what caricature you think I'm painting.

It looks like I made the mistake of thinking this one-on-one interaction was possible in Japan, is all. I didn't really have a reason to think it was unheard of to prepare some form of transport after a flight. I mean, sure Japanese people might not do it, but, per my example, John Smith is not Japanese. I guess it's also unheard of to check that the person you are driving is the person you made preparations with? I'm not really sure where I went so wrong.

There really weren't any pre-conceived notions in my example. I think everyone's under the impression that John Smith is completely in-tune with Japanese customs, which isn't the case. In the United States, calling for a taxi ahead of time is completely normal, so there's no reason for it not to be normal in this situation (for the American, at least). If it's simply not possible to do this in Japan, that's one thing, but no one has said it was so far.

Anyway. This has gotten far off topic. I just simply wanted to know how a driver would greet a passenger IF he were to address the passenger by name.
Supposing you had a private driver, do you assume they are greeting the person in English?

People are picked up at the airport when they are important enough. Same as in the States, a person standing with a card with the name at the departures gate.

Professionally, I think they would use the family name. While Japanese sometimes treat foreign people different (they can get a kick out of giving handshakes, for example), under professional circumstances, foreigners are generally given the Japanese manners treatment, more or less. Imagine you were working in retail, and a Japanese person came in, would you bow to them? It's really weird to alter your job based on the nationality.

Sumisu-sama would pretty standard, though some might go with san. Sometimes, there is a confusion about what is the first and last name with a foreigner, as foreigners might have with Japanese, but if it's a name like John Smith, there would be no confusion.
 
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Airport taxi drivers in the vast majority of countries can speak English, or at least sufficient to offer to take your luggage and confirm which hotel you're going to. The booking service (online or by phone - but not by calling on arrival, you might as well go wait in the rank) will be in English as well, because it's just good business sense. I've never had a driver greet me in the local language. They often sirma'am people rather than using names, similar to using "okyakusama" in Japanese.

Why the heck you would take a taxi from Narita (I'm presuming) is another matter.
 
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The booking service (online or by phone - but not by calling on arrival, you might as well go wait in the rank) will be in English as well, because it's just good business sense.
Fair enough, I've never tried to book a cab in advance in Japan (frankly, it never occurred to me). Based on you having done it, I defer to your experience.

I've only left the airport four ways in any country (aside from coming home, when I left my car parked or with a service):

1. Someone else booked a service for me. Maybe it's just me, but a representative from the organization shows up with the car service and the driver just really drives.

2. Someone I know picked me up.

3. Train/public transport.

4. Stood outside and got a cab.

I never did the last in Japan.
 

Mike Cash

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I've taken the Skyliner and once took a bus directly from Narita to Gunma, but can't imagine paying cab fare from the boonies of Chiba to Tokyo.
 
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@Wonko - I never bothered for Japan, because there are so many other options. Sometimes though, particularly if arriving very late, it's nice to have something sorted in advance.

I prefer to take the hotel shuttlebus if they run one, because it's door-to-door service without the cost.
 
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Haha. Well, there's that.

So, say your name is Atryne Savage. What would Japanese people typically call you in various situations (NOT being picked up by a taxi) such as first meetings, work environment, neighbors, close friends. Someone said earlier that it was easy for Japanese people to pick out the surname in a name like John Smith. In mind though, a name like Atryne Savage could go either way.
 

Mike Cash

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Haha. Well, there's that.

So, say your name is Atryne Savage. What would Japanese people typically call you in various situations (NOT being picked up by a taxi) such as first meetings, work environment, neighbors, close friends. Someone said earlier that it was easy for Japanese people to pick out the surname in a name like John Smith. In mind though, a name like Atryne Savage could go either way.
You don't even have to go to such lengths to find a confusing example. My name, as you can see, is "Mike Cash". I usually go by "Michael" in Japan because I got tired of the lame puns based on "mike" being the word for "microphone" in Japanese. Sometimes Japanese people I have known and worked with for many years will out of the blue ask me which is my given name and which is my surname.

Foreigners are like major recording stars....we only have one name (Cher, Sting, Bono, Pink, Dido, etc). It is incumbent upon the individual to state which name you prefer to be called by, as it is all the same to everybody else. All they want to know is what part of that incomprehensible string of gibberish that just went into their ears they can get by with shortening to a manageable length to refer to you. A good portion of the time you won't get -san or -sama or anything else tacked onto your name. If it bugs you, it is up to you to insist on the appending of an honorific or to decide to let it slide.
 
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Perfect! So am I right to imagine this would be a somewhat common introduction?:

"Hello! My name is John Smith. You can call me John. Nice to meet you!"

And regardless of if he's at work or with close friends or talking to acquaintances, they would just call him "John" with no -san, -sama, -kun, -chan, or anything?
 

Mike Cash

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Perfect! So am I right to imagine this would be a somewhat common introduction?:

"Hello! My name is John Smith. You can call me John. Nice to meet you!"

And regardless of if he's at work or with close friends or talking to acquaintances, they would just call him "John" with no -san, -sama, -kun, -chan, or anything?
I hate to sound like a broken record, but it would depend on the individuals and the context. It is among the possibilities, though.
 

Toritoribe

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If someone says "Hello! My name is John Smith. You can call me John. Nice to meet you!" to me in a business scene, I, and most Japanese people I believe, never call him John until we become closer. (I mean, when we talk in Japanese.)
 

Mike Cash

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If someone says "Hello! My name is John Smith. You can call me John. Nice to meet you!" to me in a business scene, I, and most Japanese people I believe, never call him John until we become closer. (I mean, when we talk in Japanese.)
I have a business card from a man in Japan who found a delightful and simple solution to the problem. On the card is included the line, "Call me Fred".
 

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It sounds like Troncoso is writing some fiction, and this is his idea of research... and you're all taking it very seriously.

Troncoso, the driving motivation for addressing someone one way or another is how the SPEAKER perceives that person and what is habitual for THEM, which is why there's no definite answer to your question. If you want to really understand how one person or another would address your fictional character, you should take into consideration the setting and individuals and social norms that drive how Japanese people speak to each other. If you understand those things, you wouldn't need to ask.

...or you can just make an assumption and have someone proofread your story later. It's unlikely the plot hinges on how the driver refers to the main character.
 
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If someone says "Hello! My name is John Smith. You can call me John. Nice to meet you!" to me in a business scene, I, and most Japanese people I believe, never call him John until we become closer. (I mean, when we talk in Japanese.)
Then...what do you call him?

It sounds like Troncoso is writing some fiction, and this is his idea of research... and you're all taking it very seriously.

Troncoso, the driving motivation for addressing someone one way or another is how the SPEAKER perceives that person and what is habitual for THEM, which is why there's no definite answer to your question. If you want to really understand how one person or another would address your fictional character, you should take into consideration the setting and individuals and social norms that drive how Japanese people speak to each other. If you understand those things, you wouldn't need to ask.

...or you can just make an assumption and have someone proofread your story later. It's unlikely the plot hinges on how the driver refers to the main character.
No. How the driver addresses the person isn't detrimental. I was just curious what he would call him. Then it just kind of blew up into all this about whether or not he would actually say anything, whether it was business/family, etc. It wasn't something that was suppose to be taken so serious.

you should take into consideration the setting and individuals and social norms that drive how Japanese people speak to each other.
This question is worded with those things taken into consideration. My setting is present, the individuals are present. The "social norms that drive how Japanese people speak to each other" is more or less what I'm asking about. That's not something I would really know unless I was accustom to it.
 
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