Of course using different words for “I”/“me” can depend on the context. But I’m curious, for those living in Japan (or those who otherwise speak Japanese “in the wild” often), which word to you generally use for “I”/“me”?
Different words depending on the situation (in non-negligible amounts)
I spent two months in Japan last summer and was made fun of by my host family for using 私 one time and said that as a 17 year old guy I should be using 俺 for almost all situations. Throughout the rest of my trip, almost every male my age or older used 俺 or 僕 depending on their masculinity and the situation. It seems like 私 can be used by both men and women during formal situations but is almost exclusively used by women during informal situations. 僕 seems to be used by boys 16 and younger, and from my experience, some older men (60+) use it too. From what I could tell, 俺 was used by most guys older than 18 when talking with friends. This could vary by region for all I know. I spent the majority of my time in Kyushu and Western Honshu and only a week and a half in Tokyo. So, all in all, I generally say 俺 with people I know, but often times I just omit the word for “I”. Hope this helps!
When I’m speaking in my head without thinking, or talking to someone in person I use 私. For the most part, I speak with older adults who don’t really care. After watching 君の名は I started using 俺 when talking to people on the internet lol.
@coltox101 That is interesting. I’m a guy in my mid-twenties, but I don’t consider myself particularly masculine (nor unmasculine; normal/neutral you could say). I don’t have anyone to speak to in Japanese, but if I did I would feel weird using 俺 because of the masculinity aspect (at least not without personal experience telling me otherwise). From your experience, do people that aren’t particularly masculine or rough use 俺 when speaking with friends anyway? Or do those individuals tend to use 僕?
Good question. I suppose it’s up to you. 僕 is, for the most part, only used by males so it shouldn’t be a problem, but I would still encourage you to use 俺 if you’re around male friends who also use it. If it’s not a particularly formal situation and you’re not sure what to use, either refrain from using “I” or use 僕.
I think learners overly worry about the “masculine” nature of 俺. I am around a lot of dancers, not particularly super masculine and many gay men, even among them 俺 is still the most predominant pronoun.
However, if you’re in Japan, “Different words depending” is really the only proper answer.
As far as the age on 僕 goes, its usage really varies heavily by location.
The longer I lived in Japan the more it moved from 私 to 僕 to 俺. Provided I wasn’t in a professional environment (or if I was, I was only around people of the same level as me) no one seemed to really care about the use of 俺 and would often shoot it back at me. But my experience is pretty strictly Osaka, so people might react differently in other regions. But for the last year and then some it was primarily 俺.
I feel like most textbooks and things scare people away from this word, though.