I solemnly offer you my regards.

Today I thought I’d talk about another Japanese phrase that doesn’t exist in English, like お疲れ様です (You are honorably tired).  Unlike o-tsukare, this one is known by most students of Japanese:

(どうぞ)よろしく(お願い)(します)

(douzo) yoroshiku (onegai) (shimasu)

(Kindly) Best Regards (request) (do)

Or, a bit more gracefully: I truly wish for your best regard/effort.

 

In Japan, even the cats are polite...when it suits them.

If you’ve studied Japanese before, this might sound really odd.  It’s generally taught to students as “Nice to meet you.” And though it is definitely used in such situations — with growing levels of politeness depending on who you’re meeting — it’s also used…pretty much all the time.

Here are a couple recent times I’ve used this phrase (please keep in mind these conversations are happening entirely in Japanese.):

New Friend: Oh, Ms. Kat, thank you for agreeing to help me study English.

Me: It’s no problem. I’m glad when people want to learn English!

NF: Great. See you on Sunday then. 授業によろしくお願いします。(I request your best regards and aid in these lessons.)

Note the use of おねがいします, o-negai shimasu, at the end. That adds an additional level of politeness only.  It doesn’t change the meaning at all!

This is one of the things I find fascinating about Japanese.  Though, of course, there are ways to imply politeness in English, usually our phrases to indicate courtesy aren’t bereft of additional meaning. And these levels of formality are one of my greatest barriers to becoming fluent in Japanese. There are just so many. And I’m never certain if I’m using the right ones in the right situations. Generally speaking, you can be less polite with people younger than you and also with friends, but even among friends, Japanese people tend to be polite! It’s very confusing.

Luckily, they’re quite forgiving to foreigners, especially as I constantly remind them that my Japanese isn’t as good as they might have been led to believe.

Here, have a more casual example:

Me: Oh, Ms. Judo Teacher, can we still practice judo tonight?

JT: Yes, of course.  See you at six.

Me: Thank you! よろしく!(Best regards!)

As always in Japan, don't forget to bow as you say it--at the correct angle, please. Image from Liz-ONBC.

In both these instances, よろしく is used to highlight the effort you’re asking of someone–it’s a request, so you want to show your gratitude. You say both “thanks” and “I request your regard.”

Which means when you’re meeting someone for the first time and you use よろしく, you’re essentially saying: “I hope we share a regard in future meetings, and I appreciate your effort in getting to know me.”

That’s a lot of bang for your buck, really, as phrases go.  I find the contrast between it and “Nice to meet you” interesting.  Of course you can amp it up–“It’s an honor to meet you.” “I am so excited and honored to make your acquaintance.” But really, how often have you used one of these more polite iterations in your life? I think I’ve maybe used it once. But I use よろしく, or even the more polite どうぞよろしくお願いします, all the time. (There are even MORE POLITE versions than that. If you believe it.)

So tell me, have you ever said, “I am honored to make your acquaintance”? Who would you ever say it to? Of the languages you’ve studied, what differences in courtesy indicated by phrases have you noticed–if any at all?

I love thinking about this, seriously.  It makes me want to write! WORLD BUILDING WIN. 😉

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