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Ore wa, Boku wa, Watashi wa...?

gwendy85

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Hi guys!

I hope someone can help me with this.

Which of these three references for "I" was commonly used in the 1940s especially for males? (I need it for my main male Japanese character)

Ore wa, Boku wa or Watashi wa --- ?
:geek:

I really want to use 'ore wa', but was that even available in the '40s? What's the difference between the three aside from spelling?

BTW, nearing the completion of my novel...in a few months time. If anyone is interested at being my translator (don't worry. I'm using very simple Japanese for my novel and would simply like someone who can correct my usage or translate little phrases for me), please PLEASE :( PM me.

Arigato Gozaimasu :oops:
 

Mike Cash

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Hi guys!
I hope someone can help me with this.
Which of these three references for "I" was commonly used in the 1940s especially for males? (I need it for my main male Japanese character)
Ore wa, Boku wa or Watashi wa --- ?

The choice is entirely context-driven. All males are all of those...just not at the same time.
 

Elizabeth

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I really want to use 'ore wa', but was that even available in the '40s? What's the difference between the three aside from spelling?
I think it was around but probably more like a curse word, ostracized by mainstream culture and with a much more savage edge to it. Is that the main reason it was so compelling for your character ? :p

Dialects would have been much stronger in the past too, it's really hard for anyone but a proofreader to tell what is natural or not. I hope you've gotten a few offers. 👍
 

Mikawa Ossan

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You'd have to ask someone around in the 40's, a rarity around these parts. Unless I'm mistaken, "ware" was a lot more popular around those days, especially during the war years. I really doubt that 'ore' was akin to a curse word back then, but I certainly wasn't around Japan (or even born!) back then.
 

Elizabeth

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You'd have to ask someone around in the 40's, a rarity around these parts. Unless I'm mistaken, "ware" was a lot more popular around those days, especially during the war years. I really doubt that 'ore' was akin to a curse word back then, but I certainly wasn't around Japan (or even born!) back then.
I meant ore may have been perceived as more vulgar or offensive in the general culture before it achieved the casual, widespead use as a way of bonding with your buddies it has today.

That's a good point about 我 -- I don't know when it was used exactly but I assume perhaps very formal and polite of that era.
 

undrentide

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I don't think that language has changed so drastically since 1940 - but without knowing WHO, it's hard to answer.

If anything, formality was much more stronger back then, "watakushi" was more commonly used by male in a formal occasion. Also soldiers had particular way of speech, like calling oneself 自分 and ending sentences ...であります when talking in front of their seniors.

As Mike san mentioned, it really depend on the context - the same person could have used different word to call oneself; watakushi, ore, jibun, boku....

I'm very much sure that ore was quite commonly used at that time, but again it really depends on the situation, who spoke where/when - the person's age, title, to whom he was speaking, etc. Those things did matter.
 

Elizabeth

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If anything, formality was much more stronger back then, "watakushi" was more commonly used by male in a formal occasion. Also soldiers had particular way of speech, like calling oneself 自分 and ending sentences ...であります when talking in front of their seniors.
I read somewhere too that members of the Imperial Army would have called each other 貴様。The significance depends on the way that word was used more generally but anyway I thought that was really interesting.
 

undrentide

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I read somewhere too that members of the Imperial Army would have called each other 貴様。The significance depends on the way that word was used more generally but anyway I thought that was really interesting.

Yes.

I think it's very interesting that many pronoun which once was used to address to higher ranking people literally "degraded" and were/are used to call the equals or even to cuss at someone - 貴様, お前 for example.

貴様 was used (1) between very close friends, also (2) it could be used to call someone below one's rank in a disparaging way.

As a good example of (1), there's a famous barracks ballad which begins with
貴様と俺とは同期の桜
But nowadays 貴様 is almost always used with the connotation of (2). 😅
 

crouk

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undrentide, do you think that おれ is more commonly used at that time?
Normally, I used わたし because I'm beginner and I think that is more polish than おれ。

Waiting your answer,

A lot of thanks.
 

Mikawa Ossan

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Here is a quote from the book 「誰も書かなかった日本陸軍」by浦田耕作、copywrite 2003, published by PHP研究所。

 午後八時過ぎに、全員が寝台の前に整列して、本地候 補生から、いろんな約束の教育を受けた。
「自分のことを俺などと言ってはいけない。自分という。
 戦友のことは貴様という。君とかお前とかアンタとか言ってはいけない。
 返事はハイを一回だけ。上官に呼ばれれば、ハイ本地 候補生と自分の名前を言って返事する。大阪弁でヘエな んて言ってはいけない。
 用事を言いつけられたら、必ず命じられた用件の要点 を言って『復唱』をする。便所は厠(かわや)と言う。 厠へ行くときには、『本地候補生厠へ行って参ります』 と、実行報告をする。帰ってくれば、『本地候補生厠よ り帰りました』と、実行報告をする。

The emphasis is mine.
 

Elizabeth

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If anything, formality was much more stronger back then, "watakushi" was more commonly used by male in a formal occasion.
I noticed this elevated tone in one of 太宰s novels I was reading through recently using language of the 1950s. In practically every sentence the female character refers to herself as 私 even intimately, in a diary, also calling her mother お母様 etc. It's very distinctive and would have been considered flamboyant or egocentric today but must have been not so outlandish for the time. Either that or it was used for good literary value that has made it last.  

If only I could find what happened to those books with leading male voices.... :p
 

Elizabeth

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undrentide, do you think that おれ is more commonly used at that time?
I'm sure more members with memories back to the '40's and '50's would have no problem helping you if only we had a few more....but maybe Epigene san or NANGI san ? 😅 😅
 

undrentide

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undrentide, do you think that おれ is more commonly used at that time?
Normally, I used わたし because I'm beginner and I think that is more polish than おれ。
Waiting your answer,
A lot of thanks.

crouk, I have to repeat what I mentioned earlier - the same person could have used both おれ and 私 depending on the situation. There's no immediate "yes" or "no" answer to your question... it really depends who/what he is, to whom he's talking to in what situation, etc.
😅

I'm sure more members with memories back to the '40's and '50's would have no problem helping you if only we had a few more....but maybe Epigene san or NANGI san ? 😊
😅
 

epigene

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I don't know NANGI san but I believe epigene san cannot tell from her own experience when it comes to 40s' and 50s' I'm afraid ... 😌

I haven't been checking out the threads in quite a while... If I had memory of the 40's, I won't have the EYESIGHT any more to be posting in JREF, and I was too little in the 50s to remember whether men used "ore," "kisama," etc. 😄

I'm pretty sure Nangi-san isn't that old, either. 😌

I don't have anything in particular to what undrentide-san posted here already.

If Elizabeth is interested in seeing how Japanese was spoken in those days, I recommend watching the Ozu Yasujiro films, where "watakushi" or "okaasama" are used by an average middle-class family. There are male characters, too, so you can see how "watashi," "boku," etc., are used by situation.
Yasujirô Ozu - IMDb
A wartime soldier movie (but made in the postwar era) that may be worth watching may be "Heitai Yakuza" starring Shintaro Katsu of Zatoichi fame. This became very popular and was made into a series.
Hoodlum Soldier (1965) - IMDb
 

Elizabeth

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I'm pretty sure Nangi-san isn't that old, either. 😅
No, I should say it was my impression he seems well-informed in the history of these usages, though, so a virtual or resident expert is more tactful and fitting.😅

If Elizabeth is interested in seeing how Japanese was spoken in those days, I recommend watching the Ozu Yasujiro films, where "watakushi" or "okaasama" are used by an average middle-class family.
Yes, I am and the only one I've seen is Bakushû, which I loved, but it was too early into my studies to get any benefit. Will check them out again ! 👍

thanks for both links, epigene-san !
 

Foxtrot Uniform

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One of my favorite pronouns is "wagahai" 我輩 but it may be a bit too arcane. The pronoun "washi" is used by some old males.
 

gwendy85

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First off, let me thank you all for replying :D However, I can't understand kanji or hiragana so mostly, I'm just staring the computer screen. Hehehe...Still can't figure this out though, though really, all these have been helpful.

Dialects would have been much stronger in the past too, it's really hard for anyone but a proofreader to tell what is natural or not. I hope you've gotten a few offers. 👍

No, I haven't received offers yet :( Anyone interested in proofreading/betareading? Or can anyone point me to a forum where I can post for one? Thanks!
 

Elizabeth

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No, I haven't received offers yet :( Anyone interested in proofreading/betareading? Or can anyone point me to a forum where I can post for one? Thanks!
Does it need to be the entire manuscript or only the Japanese parts ? If they are simple and short as you know you can divide the sections up into posts here with a summary putting it all into context and hopefully someone can answer in plain English. 😌
 

gwendy85

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Does it need to be the entire manuscript or only the Japanese parts ? If they are simple and short as you know you can divide the sections up into posts here with a summary putting it all into context and hopefully someone can answer in plain English. 😌

I was thinking of real beta reading since there's culture to consider. Like, "Hey! A Japanese wouldn't do that" or "A Japanese doesn't think/react that way" and "That never existed in Japanese society" that kind of thing.

I posted that somewhere. Haven't gotten any replies but still hopeful :( 👍 😌
 
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