Unbreakable Rules – Never 様 Yourself

Quick, what’s the first thing you hear when you go into a restaurant in Japan?

何名様(めいさま)ですか?

I was taught to always respond with 一人, 二人, 三人, etc. My sensei told us to never say 一名様, 二名様, 三名様, etc., but she never told us why. I only learned why a few years back when I went to the Shibuya TGI Fridays with my friend Yoichi.

When greeted with the question above, Yoichi answered, 二名. Awesome, I thought, Yoichi’s badass enough to answer with the stuff the sensei told us not to use! Then I realized he had dropped the 様. なるほど. 様 is what makes the phrase honorific-polite and therefore strange if you use it on yourself – you’re only supposed to honor others higher than yourself. Get rid of the 様, however, and 一名, 二名, 三名, etc. becomes just another way to count people.

Which leads to the unbreakable rule: Never 様 yourself.

That is unless you have had it with these motherfucking snakes on this motherfucking plane!

5 thoughts on “Unbreakable Rules – Never 様 Yourself

  1. I see 俺様 all the time in pop media, generally for comic effect. I think I’ve also seen constructs like この◯◯様, using the person’s name or title.

  2. My twitter friend referred me both of your blogs Japonese and Engrish. I really like both of them. After reading this article, I realized that some people at restaurants use “何人様(にんさま)ですか?” as the same kind of question. It sounds natural for me. And to make sure, they also ask after our answer like “おふたり様ですね”. By the way, there was the TV show that was called “おひとり様”. It means like people who have none of friends and maybe live alone and always go to restaurants by themselves. It is a kind of new Japanese….. I think.

  3. I see 俺様 often in pop media, generally for comic effect. I think I’ve also seen the construct この◯◯さま, using the character’s name or title.

    (sorry if this is a repost, I was sure I had posted it…)