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letslearn

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Hi All,
I have a question about politeness in regards to small talk.
In Australia it is quite normal to say to someone working at a food stall in a market or local shop etc to say casually.
How's business? ...implying, are you busy? have you had a lot of customers today? etc.

I will give an example.
I was purchasing yakitori at a festival in kyoto I wanted to say how's business? have you been busy today?
could i have said something like.
仕事の調子はどうですか or 景気はどうですか。
would that be considered impolite? or is there another way I should say it.
みんなよろしくお願いします。
 

Majestic

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Yes - typical Osaka greeting. Simple and certainly not overly polite. A bit cheeky, even. I think good for a chatting up a food stall person, even in Kyoto. You will probably get the required, non-committal answer in return: ボチボチでんなぁ (it's going OK). It's a formulaic greeting and response. Its not meant to be a serious inquiry into the profitability into the establishment.

If you want to make a serious inquiry, what you wrote above is OK (景気はどうですか or 景気はいかがですか), but to me it seems a bit forward to start quizzing a random shop keeper on their business. I guess it depends on the context. If you are already chatting and are deep into the small talk its fine. Or maybe say it a little more obliquely, 最近、忙しいですか? But chatting with the staff is one of those cultural differences. American staff love to chat with customers. Same in Australia. "Hey my name is Chris and I'll be your server today. Can I get you some drinks to get started, or do you want a few minutes to look at the menu?". You couldn't imagine a Japanese waiter/waitress saying that. I think the reverse is true. You wouldn't start small-talking the wait staff unless you were hitting on them. Again, context will dictate the decorum. A food stall? Yakitori at a festival? Chat away, you'll be fine.
 

letslearn

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Thanks, that was a great explanation.
I will give it a try the next chance I get.
 
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