boku / kimi; ore / omae

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by kyn, Dec 6, 2007.

  1. kyn

    kyn Senior Member

    Hanoi, Vietnam
    In these 2 pairs: "boku/kimi", "ore/omae", which words are used for and by girls/boys?

    This is what I think:
    - Boku: used by boys
    - Kimi: used by boys & girls, for boys & girls (same age or younger)
    - Ore: used by boys
    - Omae: used by boys & girls, for boys

    Any native speaker? Please confirm.
  2. cheshire

    cheshire Senior Member

    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    Only one correction, the rest is fine.
  3. wordclerk New Member

    California English
    Boku and Kimi can be used by boys or girls, でもちょっと厚かましいね。They are "cheeky" words. This is why they are "boy words." Ore and omae are rude. I have only rarely ever heard a female use the word "ore." But yes, some women use Omae. My mother has said to me, ”おまえはほんとにバカだね!” But later she denies it. If you are not Japanese you should just not use the last 2 words. I am not considered Japanese anymore because I have spent so much time outside of Japan and I never say Ore or Omae.
  4. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    I think there are two issues here. When used by a girl, boku sounds as intrusive as a woman using a men's toilet room. Ore from a woman is even a graver cultural offence within the earshot of a man. Feminists among the posters here are free to conclude the implications of female subjugation in the Japanese cultural codes. In contrast, kimi sounds condescending to me regardless of the sex of the speaker. I don't use it for anyone other than a jocular or sarcastic reference to someone who is much younger than I.

    A sociolinguistic theory holds that certain social traits serve as linguistic barriers across which certain words are less used than within the boundaries. Some of the social barriers are age, sex and prestige. Ore and omae clearly belong to this category since after an exhaustive eavesdropping, I have concluded that omae is very common among women in casual conversation. [In fact, mine was no scientific observation. :p]
  5. Kakeru New Member

    When my parents went to Japan (I'm a 日系ブラジル人), my mother was pretty shocked cause my cousin(female) was using "ore".
  6. Mr Punch Member

    Saitama, Japan
    England, British English
    I'm not native but I've been living here for eight years for the past five with my exclusively Japanese-speaking wife, having studied Japanese on and off for twelve or more, working in an almost exclusively Japanese environment... still don't know if I qualify - it's a tricky wee language! :D

    Just to add a couple of ideas;

    My wife told me to use 'Omae' and 'Ore' with her, and no, she's not from the shitamachi!

    I use ore/omae with her for everyday chat. If I want to say something gently I use anata/watashi. I very rarely use kimi and even more rarely boku: though I'm told that kimi is good as a cutesy term of endearment.

    I've also been told by men and women that ore is OK to men and women in mixed company going out. However, when I've used it as such reactions have been mixed: some women seem to think it manly, some crude or boorish. More often I stick to watashi/nothing for 'you' (!) with even close female friends in mixed company.

    The kids in my school get into trouble if they use ore/omae too often, but the teachers use it to them when they're in trouble!

    In the staff room I only use ore if I forget myself and/or am telling a funny story or something, or for emphasis (e.g. "Baka dane, ore!"). 99% of the time I stick to watashi. I'm taking these cues directly from all the other men in the staff room, and then using fewer ores than them to be on the safe side (I'm foreign and the youngest, though 35).

    I've heard a lot of old oyaji using ore and omae to their wives.

    I've heard a lot of especially younger girls and women use omae and ore amongst themselves (but more often ore maybe) and on trains etc (like Flaminius, I'm a firm believer in eavesdropping anecdotes! :D ), but a lot of older women and men seem to frown upon them.

    Just a few yensworth.
  7. Mr Punch Member

    Saitama, Japan
    England, British English
    Agreed. The kids at school use them a lot, but mostly the boys.

    You obviously keep good company! :D

    Pah! :thumbsdown::p

  8. cheshire

    cheshire Senior Member

    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    Good points you raised. :thumbsup:

    In choosing boku/kimi/ore/omae, you got to take into consideration whom you're talking to, in what kind of situation you're in, etc. In forums like this, you'd be most likely get outsted using "omae", less likely using "ore" for an obvious reason. For example, (this a bad way of addressing, of course!)


    This you'll never hear for a lifetime (a combination of the polite "ます" and such a rude pronoun "お前")! Except you occasionally see it written in such "infamous" (I acknowledge its merits, too!) mega-forums as 2-channel (2ちゃんねる)Of course it's aimed for a jocular effect (a combination of rudeness and politeness).

    We also take into account regional variances. I was a bit surprised to hear Flaminius (I read he's lived in Kanto) finds "kimi" condescending regardless of the sex of the speaker. I never imagined that, except I always imagined "kimi" as Kanto-dialect (as are most Kansai-jin). We'll get like 浮いた状態 whenever we used 君 (like "it's so 関東弁!").
    It depends when "kimi" sounds condescending or even polite. Some holds 君 sounds more polite than お前 naturally.
  9. cheshire

    cheshire Senior Member

    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    "おまえ" your mother used is generally taken as not a rude or offensive word but a word filled with affection, which only among cozy members can it use between them.

    So, we shouldn't take "おまえは馬鹿だね" as meaning literally, but it's a socially accepted pattern of a phrasing. It's a teasing remark, filled with affection, mentioning one's faux-pas. It's a tool of communication, so to speak. It should have been an unhappy miscommunication when you took it bad, which your mother used it affectionately. It can happen, since it's a language rolling like a soccer ball.

    Again I repeat I wouldn't tell learners of Japanese "boku" and "kimi" as cheeky words. I feel obligated to put this across for learners.

    I often notice foreign Japanese speakers are too polite: So I second Mr Punch.
  10. kyn

    kyn Senior Member

    Hanoi, Vietnam
    Thanks for all the information.
    There's one more thing I want to ask: in Japan, how do male students (university students) address each other?
  11. cheshire

    cheshire Senior Member

    Catholic (Cat-holic, not Catholic)
    They use "kimi, omae, otaku (by nerds; I'm not sure if they still use it), or directly their names or nicknames.

    "kimi" doesn't particularly sound condescending most of the time, but it has regional/social variations.

    Using "kimi" or "boku" may sound rather "sissy" for kids in Kansai.
  12. HeiAhRoo

    HeiAhRoo New Member

    It Changes
    Well, this I guess might kind of be off topic, I don't know...
    and maybe it might just be me... but I find it so cute when a boy talks to me
    using "boku" and "kimi" ^^; Like, it just seems sweeter to me x]
    I know omae and ore are more casual-ish (I guess..) but it's just kind of not the way
    I like to be talked to. (Haha, I like more formal conversations, even in every-day chats;; I'm strange I guess^^; )

    Sorry for rambling.. I just had to put in my thoughts on this xD

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