Help in determining the use of "jibun"?

So recently I was faced with the use of “jibun” in some text where I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be first person or third person. So I was wondering how to determine that? The usage starts with “jibun ga” but I couldn’t tell you if it is someone speaking or not. The official translation has it in third person, but people are crying foul. I was wondering if there is any truth to this? Thank you.


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Looks like a correct translation to me. 自分 is kind of weird, since it can even mean ‘you’ in some cases. Context is king. Not sure what people are saying it would be instead?


It’s second person, but I agree the translation seems correct!

Could be that the 〜てくれる is confusing people?


@HalKeaton Yeah, I’m curious too. What are they saying? I could be wrong, but I think the presence of くれる makes it quite clear that 「自分」and the subject of 信じて are two different people. Also, given the usual meaning of くれる, which is ‘for me (and people connected to me)’ (though I know it can sometimes be used to mean ‘for the person/people being discussed’), it really makes no sense for it to be said for instance, to the hero by Zelda, or to Zelda by the hero. It can’t mean ‘believe that I will come for you’, and it can’t be the imperative/request form meaning ‘believe that he/you will come for me’, because you don’t use the て form for an instruction directed at yourself unless you’re doing ‘self-talk’, and even then, you wouldn’t use くれる.

The final reason the official translation seems logical, in my opinion, is that the entire text seems to be the words of a narrator, especially given the final sentence. That middle block is clearly describing what Zelda is doing, and since the order/request interpretation of 信じて isn’t logical, particularly with that ellipsis (‘…’), it has to be a ‘complementary information’ use of 信じて, meaning that the final phrase adds details to the sentence before it.

I actually started thinking again if there are two ways to parse the sentence, depending on the と particle.

自分が【必ず来てくれる】と信じて → 自分 referring to Zelda

【自分が必ず来てくれる】と信じて → 自分 referring to Link


The overall meaning stays the same, though. I don’t usually deep dive into grammar :stuck_out_tongue:.

There is a significant difference between the Japanese and English localizations of BOTW: The journal entries in the Japanese version are written from Link’s perspective (using first-person pronouns when refering to Link), whereas the English version addresses Link in the second person (as “you” like in the screenshot above). I haven’t read the Japanese text in your screenshot, but I imagine this is what might be causing your confusion.

Source: I haven’t played the Japanese version yet, but this particular quirk has been brought up multiple times on the part of YouTube that dissects the lore of the game.


Usually が links the word before it to the first verb that comes up, so in this case 来て. So I would say it is definitely 自分 whose doing the coming.

Use of 自分 as a literal second person is Kansai dialect… typically in kind of a “them’s fightin words” kind of way. It can be like the Kansai version of てめぇ.

So yeah, it’s likely not the intended interpretation here.

Thanks, that definitely feels more natural.

How about in the case of like: 「じゃ、私は今帰ります。自分はどう?」

That’s not Kansai dialect, right?

That doesn’t sound particularly natural to me… it sounds like you’re using it as あなた, which would make it like Kansai dialect. In Kansai you’d probably surprise the listener (in a bad way), and elsewhere it would sound unnatural.

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Hmm, this example came from a Japanese teacher (and he’s not from Kansai) so it could be it was just an example of how it can be used in many different ways. But he usually only teaches about “normal” and “natural” ways of speaking, so not really sure :man_shrugging:. For me it feels a bit more polite/softer than あなた.

大辞林 says this:

① 反照代名詞。話し手・聞き手・第三者のいずれにも用いる。その人自身。

That is, it’s apparently fine to use it to refer to anyone, regardless of whether the word would be a first-, second- or third-person reference. I’ll take note of the fact that it’s common in Kansai though, but perhaps it’s not wrong to use it in the second person in standard Japanese either?

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That’s the definition for it as a reflexive pronoun, which is the typical usage everyone is familiar with. It’s of course possible to reflexively refer to anyone. That’s unrelated to the Kansai usage, which is just as a normal second person pronoun (though a rude one). 自分はどう? does not look reflexive to me. But maybe I’m just wrong.

Could you replace that 自分 with 自らはどう? Or 己はどう? If not, I feel like it’s different than a typical reflexive usage.

When I asked a Kansai native about the 自分はどう? question they laughed at it, and they told me it was unnatural even outside of Kansai, but again, natives can’t always be trusted.


Mentally I kind of equate it with “How about yourself?” Which I guess in English is using a reflexive pronoun non-reflexively. Maybe it’s not so rigid in Japanese, either?


I’m not very sure, but just FYI, how I’ve been understanding 自分 in Japanese so far has been based on my understanding of how 自己 is used in Chinese, and in Chinese, it’s fairly common to say stuff like 你自己呢?, which would sound something like あなた自身は?in Japanese. It’s at once reflexive and a clear reference to the other person. 你(=you) can be omitted if context makes it clear that you’re talking about the other person. I guess what I’m saying is that maybe 自分 in Japanese can be seen as ‘reflexive’ provided there’s already context that indicates a reference to someone else. That’s just food for thought; I have no idea if that’s actually how things work.

How would you pronounce 己 here? Not おのれ, right? Or at least, that might come across as offensive, no?

Do you have any thoughts about the use of 自分 in the screenshot in the OP? I have no idea if the journal is written in the first person in Japanese, but if that’s the case, then one of the premises of my argument (that it’s written by a narrator) is wrong. I mean, no matter what, I think the correct interpretation is still going to mean that someone ‘believes that Link will come for Zelda’, but I’m not sure if I’m parsing it correctly anymore. Would 自分 then be used by Link to refer to himself in his thoughts, with くれる then being used from Zelda’s perspective (which would be the 「話題の人物のために何らかの動作をすることを表す」definition from 大辞林 instead of the usual ‘for me and my people/in-group’ meaning)? What do you think?

Well, I mean, no more so than 自分 in reflexive second person, right? If it were offensive, that would suggest it wasn’t reflexive. Ignoring the fact that 己 is not the appropriate word for this register… we’re just discussing whether it could fit in as a different reflexive pronoun.

Hm… I don’t know. I think you have a lot more experience with Japanese conversational usage than me, since I don’t live in Japan and I don’t have much contact with Japanese outside of anime, Twitter and NHK news articles. It was a genuine question, because my current impression of おのれ is that it’s offensive by default, and that the original meaning of ‘~self’ has faded completely. Basically something like 貴様, which is clearly polite from the kanji, but very rude in real life. If you’re telling me that my impression is wrong and it isn’t always offensive, then OK, perhaps that works. On the other hand, my impression of 自ら(みずから in your example, yes? And not おのずから?)is that it’s never offensive and quite clearly (from the kanji) reflexive, so it would just be interpreted based on context.

We’re talking about 「自分はどう?」, right? As long as context makes it clear (e.g. the speaker has just finished speaking about himself or herself), then I think it’s fine to replace 自分 with any pronoun that’s widely accepted as reflexive. Again though, I’m saying all this through the lens of how 自己 is used in Mandarin. Perhaps it doesn’t work the same way in Japanese.

Again, mostly basing my comments about 自分はどう on the reaction of a native, so I would probably not use it myself. But I’ll stop short of telling other people not to use it.

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I’ve got very little experience with the word in Japanese, and in the anime I’m currently watching, 自分 is being used as a first-person pronoun instead of 私 or something similar. I think it’s probably not the clearest way to ask the question though, so I probably wouldn’t use it either. No idea how most people see it, but there’s clearly more than one view given what @morteasd’s teacher said as someone from outside Kansai.