Procedural Phrases and させていただく

I’ve got another article in the Japan Times, this time about the procedural phrases that make Japan go round. Aside from the idiomatic ones I introduce at the beginning of the article, just about any of the する/します verbs can be swapped out for させていただく to make them more polite. I’ve written about this handy little phrasing a couple of different times. I find it useful for a couple of reasons: 1) to power up my keigo depending on my company, 2) to be funny by pretending that a situation is more serious than it actually is (which I also mentioned in my article about 遠慮 over at Neojaponisme), and 3) to be funny by pretending to “ask permission” when performing an action you would do anyway.

I forgot to note that Matt from No-sword added some awesome comments at the bottom of this post about using Japanese causative as a request. He sums up the situation nicely.

I feel like this article wasn’t my best effort – a little light on some of the examples like 拝見します. I’ll probably come back to this topic in the future, so あとでもう少し書かせていただきます。

4 thoughts on “Procedural Phrases and させていただく

  1. I really enjoyed this one! I recently covered for someone supporting Japanese users of an educational website and have been helping out with correspondence for a company licensing video clips of the tsunami in Tohoku from Japanese YouTube users for a documentary, and I use させていただく all the time when writing to these “customers”.

    When we were studying writing in Japanese I was always worried that I was using the polite verb endings too often and sounding like a parody, but the teacher assured me there was no such things as too many polite verb endings for keigo (in a situation where it’s needed!). It still feels weird to say フィアルを添付させていただきます (allow me to take the liberty of attaching the file [you asked for]) but as you say it’s about the form of words more than their literal meaning, which I find confusing to this day.

    If I’m translating something with these kind of phrases, I tend to leave ones like 以上です out completely.

  2. Lately I’ve been trying to nitpick at my Japanese by adding more complicated structures and using a more natural voice. Right now I’m trying to get over that passive and causative voice speed bump where I know once I can get over that hurdle things will look much brighter. This article reminded me though that I have used such terms as させていただきます. I just have to remember 自己紹介をさせていただきます。

    So I really appreciate your little articles and journal comments. It really helps to remind me that I already know and have used a lot of these grammar patterns but just haven’t realized it because when I first learned them I was just learning them as a set expression. So thanks.

    Speaking of, every since your ベタベタ article I have been hearing that word everywhere and have used it so many times. It’s definitely ingrained in my head now.

  3. Arline – Thanks for the comment! Totally agree about not translating 以上です. Anything just sounds awkward.

    Kuremi – 自己紹介させていただきます is a great example of a VERY useful させていただく phrase. I’m glad my writing is helpful to you. I’ll keep trying to provide more info. It’s funny how often you hear words once you’ve studied them.

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