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Kaori Shoji on the tricky usage of -ちゃん


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Here's an interesting article on the trickier aspects of the honorific ちゃん (chan).

Back in February, a friend of mine who had recently divorced ran into her ex-husband. They were together for five years and were, naturally, on ちゃん付け (chanzuke) terms. ちゃん付け is when you are close enough to a woman that you attach ちゃん (chan) to the end of her name instead of さん (san), which is often translated as "Mr." or "Mrs." but is really just an honorific suffix. ちゃん sounds more cute. Anyway, my friend told me she was a bit surprised when her ex called her by her 名字 (myōji, family name) followed by さん. Taking the cue, she did the same, and the brief encounter began and ended with mutual respect. "もうちゃん付けで呼び合わなくなって本当に離婚したんだと思った" (Mō chanzuke de yobiawanaku natte, hontō ni rikon shita-n da to omotta, Now that we don't use "chan" with each other, it felt like I really got divorced), my friend told me. It was truly a defining moment for her, and she's still trying to sort out her feelings.

Source: Friendly or too familiar? The tricky parameters of using 'chan'
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