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Surnames or First names?

gwendy85

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Still working on my World War II novel here.

One of my main characters is a Japanese soldier. I'm editing the part wherein he and his army buddies are just chatting around some.

And there's one tiny detail, not really much, but it could affect the historical accuracy of my story.

Do Japanese soldiers, esp during World War II, address each other by their surnames/family names or their first names? If by surnames, what are the circumstances in which they do address each other by the first name? :?

Appreciate the input 👍
 
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I'm sorry.
Because I am weak in English, I cannot understand your question.
Please write it concretely intelligibly.
 

Ashikaga

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Surnames. Always.

The ONLY circumstance I can think of where two soldiers might address each other by their first names is : The two grew up together. Perhaps brothers or close friends prior to becoming soldiers. In private.
 

gwendy85

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Ah, so they address mostly by family names.

Thank you so much. I expected as much.

I guess I'll have to revamp a few words here and there. Thanks much!
 

AJBryant

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Or rank. Especially when addressing those of higher rank. (A private will never call a sergeant anything but "sergeant," for example.) In some units, the step between private and corporal also called for a distinction in address.
Tony
 

gwendy85

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Or rank. Especially when addressing those of higher rank. (A private will never call a sergeant anything but "sergeant," for example.) In some units, the step between private and corporal also called for a distinction in address.
Tony

Wow, really? Thanks! Uhmm.....so never anything BUT the rank?

Eg. One of my characters is Furukawa (his surname / family name). So my main character can only call him "Gocho"? (or is is gochou)?

Thanks much! Hope to hear more replies 🙂
 

AJBryant

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You're writing in English, right?

Then he should call him "Sergeant."

Tony
 

undrentide

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Wow, really? Thanks! Uhmm.....so never anything BUT the rank?

Eg. One of my characters is Furukawa (his surname / family name). So my main character can only call him "Gocho"? (or is is gochou)?

Thanks much! Hope to hear more replies 🙂

Title is used only when adressing the seniors. When addressing the lower ranked, it should be family name.
And I think when using the title, honorific "dono" is also used. i.e. "Gocho dono".
 

Mike Cash

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Is it possible you're going to have so much Japanese vocabulary in your novel that the readers will constantly have to refer to a glossary in the back of the book? That is the impression I get from reading your posts about the book for the last few years.
 

AJBryant

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As a real, honest-to-God, paid-for-it editor -- What Mike said.

It is a BIG mistake (and usually a beginner's one) to litter a text with foreign language words when the text is set in a foreign culture.

The only place you should use words from that language are where there is no direct English equivalent of the word you need. Your lingua franca is ENGLISH. Your work should be in English.

Think about it: if someone is speaking a sentence in Japanese, they would say the sentence in Japanese. If they're speaking in English, they say it in English. Random exclamations and so on should ONLY be in the "source" language if there is no English equivalent -- and there is no problem translating "naruhodo" to "ah" or "I see" or "gotcha"; likewise, the plethora of uses of "maaa" usually have English equivalents. And in English, we call people "Mr" and not "San."

Consider this. I've seen sentences like this:

"Wakarimashita, Tanaka-san. So he admitted that his own nii-san was the culprit, ne? Maa. I just can't believe it. Well, we can pick him up outside the Shinjuku Eki. Can I finish my bento first? Doumo."

That is just the same text as this (except the name change, as *this* is a Japanese writer trying to make a story sound like an American one):

"I understand, Mister Smith. Soitsu wa jibun no older brother ga hannin da to mitometa, huh? Jeez, shinjirarenai. Metro Station no mae de toraeru. Sono mae, lunch wo tabesasete moraeru ka? Thanks."

Looks stupid, doesn't it?

Don't do that.


Tony
 

gwendy85

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Is it possible you're going to have so much Japanese vocabulary in your novel that the readers will constantly have to refer to a glossary in the back of the book? That is the impression I get from reading your posts about the book for the last few years.


As a real, honest-to-God, paid-for-it editor -- What Mike said.

It is a BIG mistake (and usually a beginner's one) to litter a text with foreign language words when the text is set in a foreign culture.

The only place you should use words from that language are where there is no direct English equivalent of the word you need. Your lingua franca is ENGLISH. Your work should be in English.

Think about it: if someone is speaking a sentence in Japanese, they would say the sentence in Japanese. If they're speaking in English, they say it in English. Random exclamations and so on should ONLY be in the "source" language if there is no English equivalent -- and there is no problem translating "naruhodo" to "ah" or "I see" or "gotcha"; likewise, the plethora of uses of "maaa" usually have English equivalents. And in English, we call people "Mr" and not "San."

Consider this. I've seen sentences like this:

"Wakarimashita, Tanaka-san. So he admitted that his own nii-san was the culprit, ne? Maa. I just can't believe it. Well, we can pick him up outside the Shinjuku Eki. Can I finish my bento first? Doumo."

That is just the same text as this (except the name change, as *this* is a Japanese writer trying to make a story sound like an American one):

"I understand, Mister Smith. Soitsu wa jibun no older brother ga hannin da to mitometa, huh? Jeez, shinjirarenai. Metro Station no mae de toraeru. Sono mae, lunch wo tabesasete moraeru ka? Thanks."

Looks stupid, doesn't it?

Don't do that.


Tony

good advice! Thanks guyz (glad you remembered, Mike hehe)

Actually, yes, it's all in English but certain portions need to be in Japanese, but not too much. This is not only to add flavor, but to also add to the confusion of the character whose point of view is currently being portrayed (non-Japanese). But I still make do with -san / -kun / -chan / -sama after some of the names.

Speaking of which, when do you use these (-san / -kun / -chan / -sama ) after a name? My character sort of calls his mother and father Otosama and Okasama....or is it incorrect or too formal?☝

Thanks again, guyz! 😊

BTW, I sort of write it like this:

"Muzukashī. It's very hard..." Kazuo curled his lip up while looking at his notes.
***pls correct if er....incorrect hehe ***

kinda like putting in the Japanese words and hurrying in with a translation.
 

AJBryant

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Speaking of which, when do you use these (-san / -kun / -chan / -sama ) after a name?

You can probably get away with that. This is one of those areas were information is supplied by the terms that can't come across in English.

My character sort of calls his mother and father Otosama and Okasama....or is it incorrect or too formal?

Only if he's from an upper-class (and thus more formal) family.


BTW, I sort of write it like this:
***pls correct if er....incorrect hehe ***
kinda like putting in the Japanese words and hurrying in with a translation.

Please don't do that. Please.


Tony
 

Glenski

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Look at 2 books for examples of (IMO) horrible insertion of Japanese text:

Rising Sun (far too much dialogue, and if memory serves, some of it went unexplained)
The Man with the Red Tatoo (007 book)

If you're going to "hurry up" and squeeze in a translation, do it in parentheses (like in The Roads to Sata) or as an appositive phrase following the Japanese word (like in Sado Island in Exile). Otherwise, like AJBryant wrote, don't do it at all. It only confuses the readers, and for the ones who do know a smattering of Japanese, it makes you look condescending. Moreover, if you never use a Japanese word more than once, it's just window dressing. Like TP'ing a tree.

BTW, who is going to proofread/edit your book?
 

Ashikaga

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While I understand what people have been saying about using foreign words and phrases in books written in English, I think it sometimes serves its purpose of injecting a certain amount of exotic, foreign "air" into the English narative.

I didn't mind one bit the foreign words/phrases while reading the books by John Irving (German in Setting Free The Bear, The Hotel New Hampshire, etc, Hindi in The Son Of The Circus, etc.).

Ultimately, it is the author's vision and s/he should choose to use as many/few foreign words as they see fit. Marketting of the work is a totally separate matter and should be handled by a professional editor but first, an author should follow her/his vision IMO.
 

Toritoribe

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German in Setting Free The Bear, The Hotel New Hampshire,
"Auf Wiedersehen, Freud!"

Sorry, off topic:p

My character sort of calls his mother and father Otosama and Okasama....or is it incorrect or too formal?
How your character calls his mother and father (otosama/okasama, chichiue/hahaue, tousan/kaasan, etc.) gives him "the character." I think fitting it to the character is as important as the expression is correct/incorrect.
 
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gwendy85

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My character sort of calls his mother and father Otosama and Okasama....or is it incorrect or too formal?
Only if he's from an upper-class (and thus more formal) family.
How your character calls his mother and father (otosama/okasama, chichiue/hahaue, tousan/kaasan, etc.) gives him "the character." It's far more important rather than the expression is correct/incorrect.
Okay, so I'll have to do away with -sama. So how do you think my character should call his parents? Just to give a lil background of him, his father is a late army hero, he is close to his mother but not the overly-affectionate-with-words type. His relationship with his parents are both with high respect and love. They're content, but not the happy-go-lucky type. Think not-too-serious-content. So should he call them kaasan tousan?
Look at 2 books for examples of (IMO) horrible insertion of Japanese text:
Rising Sun (far too much dialogue, and if memory serves, some of it went unexplained)
The Man with the Red Tatoo (007 book)
If you're going to "hurry up" and squeeze in a translation, do it in parentheses (like in The Roads to Sata) or as an appositive phrase following the Japanese word (like in Sado Island in Exile). Otherwise, like AJBryant wrote, don't do it at all. It only confuses the readers, and for the ones who do know a smattering of Japanese, it makes you look condescending. Moreover, if you never use a Japanese word more than once, it's just window dressing. Like TP'ing a tree.
BTW, who is going to proofread/edit your book?
Point taken. Thanks for the advice 😊 Unfortunately enough, one of my main resources IS the Rising Sun :p I'm still trying to look for reliable material on Japanese behavior.
Who'll proof read? I got one from each of the three nationalities in my novel, except one: you guessed it, Japanese. I'm Filipino, so no problem with me being accurate culture wise. I have an American proof reader (who used to work with the army and is a WWII researcher so I got everything covered there) but unfortunately no Japanese Beta reader, or someone with a good enough idea of the language and culture :( I hope to come across one though

While I understand what people have been saying about using foreign words and phrases in books written in English, I think it sometimes serves its purpose of injecting a certain amount of exotic, foreign "air" into the English narative.
I didn't mind one bit the foreign words/phrases while reading the books by John Irving (German in Setting Free The Bear, The Hotel New Hampshire, etc, Hindi in The Son Of The Circus, etc.).
Ultimately, it is the author's vision and s/he should choose to use as many/few foreign words as they see fit. Marketting of the work is a totally separate matter and should be handled by a professional editor but first, an author should follow her/his vision IMO.
Yeah, I strongly believe it adds to the exotic flair, though I must admit I've been going crazy with it, haha, but I'll mellow down. Thanks for this :)
One thing I am maintaining and making sure I do keep is the use of titles for parents and older siblings and or other relatives. This will make distinguishing the nationalities. Example, in Filipino, big brother is 'Kuya' and in Japanese, 'Onisan' (correct me if I'm wrong). The difference between the two is Filipinos use honorifics like this prior to the name while Japanese (as far as I know) use this after the name.
Filipino: Kuya Kazuo
Japanese: Kazuo Onisan

This is also to distinguish from Americans, who do not have honorifics like these.

Thanks again, guyz! I never really thought I'd get a bombardment of replies.

By the way, I dunno if anyone can answer this, or maybe I made too much of Michael Chricton's "Rising Sun".
But how were Japanese half-bloods / mixed-bloods treated during WWII you think? Not too nicely? :?

And what does Ainoko mean? A friend of mine called me that...... ☝

If I'm bordering a little on racial sensitivity, sumimasen....:sorry: I just wanna make this as accurate as possible in both historical and social aspects at the time.
 

gwendy85

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Oh yeah, before I forget. I have one particular Japanese corporal who is hated by the privates. Can these privates, at least in private (EXCUSE THE PUN) call this corporal by his last name, as their own secret way of showing their disdain/disrespect?
 

Ashikaga

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It might be a LOT easier/faster if you just found/hired a Japanese consultant/editor/proof reader whom you can trust. I mean, are you going to go over every single detail in your book here on this thread? How would you know which memeber is giving you the correct information? :?
 

undrentide

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I agree with ASHIKAGA.
Answers to most of your questions about the language varies depending on the context, background of characters, etc. It is very difficult to get the right answer just with some brief explanation.
If you're writing a novel with a lot of Japanese words and phrases are used, it should be proof read by someone reliable - who is a native speaker or who has a very good conduct with the language.
 

Glenski

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The way you describe the relationship with the parents, leave out the cute and cuddly "kaasan and tousan" and instead just use the standard okaasan and otousan.

Making fun of people behind their backs leaves the playing field wide open. Nicknames, nicknames!

My wife and her brother (and their parents, by the way) hardly ever use the first names. Everyone seems to use oneesan, not Kyoko oneesan, for example. Just the title, ok? Even Mom and Dad refer to each other with titles instead of I or you/him/her. Mom said about herself, okaasan wa....... Weird, but that's how impersonal/indirect things are.

Don't rely on Rising Sun for much help, IMO, about WWII language. It wasn't even set in the same decade, you know, and the lead characters weren't Japanese! Just write, get your story assembled, enjoy the process, develop your characters, etc. and then find someone working at the university who teaches Japanese language classes (preferably a Japanese person) to help with the idiosyncrasies of the Japanese you throw in. Compensate them well.

If you want more writing advice, PM me. I know a group of writers and writer wannabes who exchange emails daily as support and other means.
 

Mike Cash

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I've never actually written a book, but I am under the impression that one way of going about it is to write a couple of sample chapters and a summary treatment/proposal for the remainder and then have a literary agent shop it around to publishers.

It might be a good idea to take such an approach, or at least to work with an established agent for guidance. Otherwise you could end up doing lots and lots of work only to find that you have to redo it or perhaps even have something that publishers aren't interested in.
 
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