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(infants / toddlers) and when to start using さん?

Discussion in '日本語 (Japanese)' started by akashoz, May 30, 2013.

  1. akashoz Junior Member

    English (?)
    (1) I would like to know words for saying "infant", "toddler", and "teenager" that sound natural in both formal, and informal, contexts. I would prefer not to use the 「ちゃん」 suffix.

    timeline:
    infant (0 ---> 12-months) // (maybe 幼児)?
    toddler (13-months ---> 3 yrs-old) // ?
    child (4 yrs-old ---> 13 yrs-old) // 子供
    teenager (14 yrs-old ---> 19 yrs-old) // ?
    adult (20 yrs-old ---> ___) /// 大人

    (2) At what age do you start to add the 「さん」 suffix to a Japanese name? example:
    If 「田中京子」 were 15 yrs-old, could I say:「京子さんの調子はどうだい?」
    If 「田中京子」 were 10 yrs-old, could I say:「京子さんの調子はどうだい?」
    If 「田中京子」 were 5 yrs-old, could I say:「京子さんの調子はどうだい?」
    What is 京子 is 8-months old?
    「京子ちゃんの調子はどうですか?」 // even in formal conversation 「ちゃん」 is ok?
    「京子さんの調子はどうですか?」 // this seems strange to me
     
  2. Arui Kashiwagi Senior Member

    (1)
    The Child Welfare Act defines the terms as below:
    乳児 (0...12 months old)
    幼児 (1...7 years old, until elementary school)
    少年 (7...18 years old)

    In the legal sense 少年 means both boys and girls, however in an informal context we often split it into 少年(boys) and 少女(girls).

    And the School Education Act have another term, 児童, which strictly means children at elementary school (7...12 y/o). This term may sound slightly more formal than the others, yet often appears in several announcements or the names of associations.
    To sum it up, we have 4+1 terms (乳児, 幼児, 児童, 少年 and 少女) for this purpose. I think all of them are common enough and can be used in many situations, formal or informal.

    Compared to these terms, 子供 is rather a general word that doesn't have a strict definition. e.g. In a conversation it may imply any child up to 18 y/o (or 20, the legal drinking age), but in some shops "children's price" is applied only to 児童 (In this case, children younger than 7 are often free).


    (2)
    Hmm, it really varies from person to person. Some teachers even insist that you should always use さん for all school children, both boys and girls, from the point of political-correctness - but apparently this idea is not popular.
    Probably the time that she graduate from elementary school (12 y/o) would be a good point. By the way, if a child is a boy, people tend to keep using "くん" until much later.

    In my opinion, yes.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2013
  3. MidoriHaru New Member

    Japan
    English
    I'm a bit late to the conversation, and the question has already been answered very well - but this is something I have really been noticing a lot recently.
    I am not a native Japanese speaker but have lived in Japan for many years, and because it doesn't come naturally to me I am always taking note of what people around me use and how they use it.

    My daughter is a 4th grade student in Japanese school. Her school is a new type that has combined Elementary and Junior High in the one building.
    I'm in the PTA and the official school directive is that we must use 児童 (じどう) to refer to children in grades 1-4, and 生徒 (せいと) "student" to refer to students from grades 5-9.

    As my daughter has grown up, I also have been fascinated in the switch in the way that children are addressed by their teachers and those around them.

    As I recall, ちゃん was used for both boys and girls when they were tiny babies, but there was an early switch to the use of くん for little boys.
    In kindergarten the teachers used first name + ちゃん for girls and first name + くん for boys.

    In first grade that continued - but there was a switch in about 2nd grade to the use of first name + さん for girls (the boys stayed the same)

    Now in 3rd and 4th grade I've noticed that the teacher has moved to a more grown up family name + さん for the girls and family name + くん for the boys.

    The interesting thing is how the children refer to each other. I've noticed that the girls are still most usually called first name + ちゃん but the boys are now called family name + くん

    Most of the other mothers, like myself, still seem to be stuck in kindergarten and call all the other children by first name + ちゃん or くん - especially we have have known that child since they were little.

    From what i have observed I think it is quite common for people to get stuck in a way of referring to someone like that. My husband grew up in the sea we live in, and it is fascinating to see old ladies greet him as first name (or nickname) + くん or in the case of very old ladies nickname + ちゃん!
    People his own age would only ever use さん、either with his family name or in a very familiar casual context with his full first name.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2013

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