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What do you call yourself?

My students often ask this question, and for those of you who watch Japanese dramas and anime, you have probably wondered this at one time or another.


When you refer to yourself in English, most of the time you use "I", right?

How about in Japanese? If you watch Japanese dramas or anime, you would know that

Japanese first person address varies depending on gender, position, personality and so on.

Today, let's take a look at the first person names in Japanese!



As you can see from the images, there are far fewer first person names for women than for men.



To understand this, let us know a little about the historical background!


It was only very recently that gender equality began to permeate the Japanese society, and this was especially true before World War II. Women's status was low, women were expected to behave well, and the use of a variety of casual, first person terms was not considered a good thing. This history is thought to be one of the reasons why women have fewer first person names than men.


It is important to note that in business interactions, both men and women use “わたし(Watashi)”.

You may use a variety of first person names for colleagues and juniors with whom you are close, but you should not use them in business interactions.

Remember that these first person terms are generally used in casual situations!


In my case, I often use "おれ(Ore)" for friends and juniors, and "ぼく(Boku)" for seniors with whom I am close!

In fact, "おれ(Ore)" is not often used with people older than you, even if you are close to that person.


Men and women are free to call themselves whatever they want!

By paying attention to the first person while watching dramas and anime, you will get an idea of what each first person is supposed to be like!


For example, a boy who is born with a silver spoon in his mouth uses “ぼく(Boku)” and an old man uses “わし(Washi)”. Strong-willed women often use a number of first person names, such as “おれ(Ore)"!


Now, which first person name would you choose for yourself?

There are many more first person names to choose from! If you find one that you like, please try using it!


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