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.

  4. Pingback: How to Japonese» Blog Archive » Cool Kanji – 堅

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