Formal and Informal Speech

Hello, hello.

I’m a bit hyped since I’ve finished a lot of stuff today, and I feel really accomplished. I’ve been meaning to make this post since forever, and finally I got the time for it.

As we all know, languages like Japanese and Korean have both formal and informal speech. I’m sure other languages have these kinds of speech as well. For beginners, we get exposed to the formal speech in textbooks, and then the informal one mainly in audio lessons and in friendly situations.

While it’s good for us beginners to start with being formal and polite, it’s quite disheartening when the manga/anime or k-drama we’re into actually use informal speech more, right? But it’s alright though, once you start studying the informal speech, a lot of things will start make sense and unless you learn the formal forms beforehand, you wouldn’t have that “A-ha!” moment, right?

Languages are amazing, aren’t they?

In my native language, Malay, we also have something like this but the concrete borderline of formal and informal is whether you use the language to speak or to write. In speaking, we use a lot of slangs and drop a lot of particles but in writing (for official purposes and exams), you have to use all these particles. As far as I can see, the particles are some of the hardest things to be learned in any language, aight? Haha. But worry not, because texting in Malay or posting on social media is similar to any other languages with these type of things — just use the informal speech.

As for Japanese, I can detect (I think?) the formal language used when they say all those -desu, and if you watch Kuroko no Basuke, Kuroko definitely talks in formal language which makes it easier for me as a beginner to understand some things of what he said. But what about the guys and gals around him? I’m helping to translate an otome game here where they talk a lot though, so I think it’s a right time to be exposed to the informal language but take good caution as to not use them… haha.

For Korean, I do get confused. Like when you get used to hear people ends their speech with ‘-imnida’, and then got thrown into an audio lesson where they use banmal (informal speech, usually the way an older person talks to the younger person), I…. got lost in translation, haha. The word for ‘go’ in Korean is just ‘ga’, so when I heard the other day about a detective shoo-ing away his comrade, he basically said “Ga!!” and I was like ? ? ? but then oH GA IS GO. RIGHT.

Also! In Malay, Korean and Japanese we use formal speech (or in Malay, we call it ‘with respect’) towards people older than us, right? So when I was about… 7 years old, I think, I heard on TV that a little girl called her uncle by the name, and said ‘you’ directly. I got a little culture shock right there, in my living room. Haha.

We don’t usually directly address a person ‘you’, in most cases. So the other day when I was doing some quality-check on some game translations that was proofread by another member of the team, I frowned when I saw that the proofreader changed how a little girl calls her grandma by directly saying ‘you’. We all know that it’s normal in English, but keeping the Japanese context in a translation is important and… this is a little kid we’re talking about, though? So after that, the translators came to me and claimed that they don’t like those etc lol. I don’t blame anyone though, I should have checked for the quality a little bit better.

So in my early days of blogging/tweeting/making friends online, I always, always ask the people that I’ve just known for their age. It’s not like it’s a habit or anything, but I feel more comfortable if I know a person’s age and know how to talk with a person. Like, should I talk a bit straight-forward and serious, or should I use a lot of emojis when talking? But when someone told me that they’re not comfortable with me asking their age (even though I said “if you’re fine with that” at first), I stopped altogether. It still matters a bit to me but unless a person brings up about the age topic then I won’t ask. I don’t really feel too young or too old, I just feel like this is finally the time for me to graduate high school!1!!!1 Aha, and I look a bit too young for my age so it’s never a problem to me.

Oh gosh, when I type about a topic, there’s always something else popping up as well! xD
Even if I think about a particular subject, my mind always shifts to another topic so I’d be like, “wait, what was I thinking about in the first place?”. Tsk tsk tsk, I don’t know haha. I don’t know why but this is also why I always loses focus. My mind just basically wanders….

Ah, here we go again.

Anyway, this post was long but I feel like I finally could say the things that I wanted to; the wonders of languages! An idea for a few other posts also just popped up in my head so I hope those kind of posts will be up later, hehe.

Thank you for reading and have a nice weekend ahead!

(p.s: I’m going for an interview for an exchange programme tomorrow. I don’t really wanna put my hopes up too high but I hope I’ll do well! Good luck, me!)


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