Re: Japanese pronouns

Subject: Re: Japanese pronouns
From: Karen Kay <karenk -at- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 1 Dec 1994 18:23:45 -0800

Fenella Saunders said:
> On Thu, 1 Dec 1994, Karen Kay wrote:
> > reasons, though.:) Japanese doesn't have gender for nouns, but there
> > is *NO gender-neutral* third-person sg. pronoun. There are pronouns
> > for he 'kare' and she 'kanojo'. The fact is that most Japanese
> > speech/writing is gender-neutral because pronouns are used less
> > frequently.

> This isn't entirely correct. There is a pronoun 'anata' that means
> 'you'.

Last time I checked, 'you' was 2d person, not 3d. I spoke only about
3d sg. pronouns, because that's what we were talking about. I have
several hours of lectures that I can give on Japanese pronoun usage,
but I'll wait till there's a request.;)

> It's pretty formal, and can be used towards anyone, i believe.
> However, it is used extremely rarely, and in most cases only by women
> towards their husbands, so has come to have that connotation.

'anata' does mean 'you', and it does have these two contradictory uses.
It's used in formal conversation and as the Japanese equivalent of
'honey' or 'dear' (by both genders). I have never seen 'anata' used in
computer documentation, and have trouble imagining a situation where
it would be. So let's keep the subject to what happens in technical

karenk -at- netcom -dot- com

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