addressing a kid without knowing their name

PoisonedQuill

Senior Member
Spain - Spanish
Hi everyone!

I'm aware that there's already a thread on "addressing someone without knowing their name", but my question is a bit more specific... so sorry if this seems repetitive (small kids aren't the same as adults...). Also, I googled and checked the resources, but Japanese is tricky when it comes to addressing forms, so I'd feel more confident with a direct answer (rather than just inferring from what I've read).

That being said... I asked quite a while ago how could I say "sweetie" or "honey" in Japanese, that is, terms of endearment that I could use with kids. The answer was that there aren't translations for "sweetie" or "honey" and I should use <boy name>-kun and <girl name>-chan instead to show affection. My question now is: what if I don't know the name of the kid? For example, to say "Hi, sweetie, what's your name?". Should I use "ototo" for a boy and "imoto" for a girl, since they use "oneesan" and such? Truth is, I watch anime sometimes and while I've heard "oneesan" and "oniisan" about a hundred times I've never heard "ototo" or "imoto" (why is this, by the way?).

So what would you say? I have no idea of Japanese and can't read kanji, hiragana or katakana, so please use (or include) romaji. Thanks so much!
 
  • kaito

    Senior Member
    German
    I don't know if it's a term of endearment but I've seen boku used in such situations.
    (You may be aware that boku is usually used as I/me but it's also used to address children.)
     

    uchi.m

    Banned
    Brazil, Portuguese
    I don't know if it's a term of endearment but I've seen boku used in such situations.
    (You may be aware that boku is usually used as I/me but it's also used to address children.)
    That's correct, little boys can be addressed as bokuchan, for instance.
    My mother used to call a kid from the neighborhood this way.
     

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    It's amazing to observe how gender has an influence of the language to deal with children.

    For boys, some of the forms are: boku, bokuchan, bōya, bocchan
    For girls, some of the forms are: watashi, ojōchan, jōchan

    Casual second person pronouns are also used. I am not sure if they are used more for either gender: kimi, omae, anta

    If you are asking back the same question as the child asked you, you can use socchi, for example.

    C: いくつ?
    A: 19歳だよ。そっちは?

    I recall little girls being called musume san... but I don't know why not musume chan instead :confused:
    Musume san is for older girls in older Japanese. Musume chan is non-existent.

    This may be a personal preference but I am not very keen on using address forms; especially the ones in the first group. I think I'd use , which is kind of "Hey" but more versatile. The word is used with an interlocutor whose social status you don't have to defer to.
     

    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    For boys, some of the forms are: boku, bokuchan, bōya, bocchan
    In the "Hana yori Dango" (花より男子) J-dorama, the main character 道明寺司 (Dōmyōji Tsukasa) was addressed by his mother's secretary as 坊っちゃん (bocchan) and it was translated as "young master". This must quite a polite address to a young person, am I right?
     

    lammn

    Senior Member
    Chinese - Cantonese
    "Chibichan" is used to address a small girl in the anime "garasu no kamen".
    Wondering if it can be used in real life situation, because Japanese used in anime often differs with real life. :rolleyes:

    Also, I'm not sure if it is very insulting to call someone "chibichan"(shorty).
     
    Last edited:

    Flaminius

    coclea mod
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    Hello Anatoli,
    好久不見。 :)

    In the drama, the main character is a teenage boy. The secretary of his mother, needless to say, knows his name. In this context bocchan is quite a polite address.

    When I was around 8, I sometimes hang around in the supermarket looking for a vendor who'd offer me a bite of orange or kiwi saying, "ぼっちゃん、一切れたべてみない".
     
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    Anatoli

    Senior Member
    Native: русский (Russian), home country: English
    Hello Anatoli,
    好久不見。 :)

    In the drama, the main character is a teenage boy. The secretary of his mother, needless to say, knows his name. In this context bocchan is quite a polite address.

    When I was around 8, I sometimes hanged around in the supermarket looking for a vendor who'd offer me a bite of orange or kiwi saying, "ぼっちゃん、一切れたべてみない".
    久し振りですね、Flaminius。お元気ですか。:)
    そうですか、外の人の息子も「坊っちゃん」といいますね。
     
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