Polite japanese

What really goes on with polite Japanese? Here in LA it seems rare for anyone to use it and many fear making errors when they do…
What do people expect from those providing goods and services?

By “polite”, are we referring to です/ます form (what’s usually called “polite” Japanese), or keigo (the super-formal respect language)?

Keigo super polite

LA as in Los Angeles? What is the reason why no one uses Keigo … in LA?


Exactly what I was going to ask.

In my experience working in various service roles when I was at university, (Duty free jewellery store in Australia, Golf Courses and Hotels in Japan) I was expected to use Keigo with customers.

L.A Los Angeles

In what context are you using Japanese in LA? Are you in a business or service environment?

You had to speak Japanese working at a jewelry store in Australia?

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It was a duty free Opal store, aimed primarily at Japanese tourists. I got the job because I could speak Japanese. (Now the tourism in Melbourne is mainly aimed at Chinese tours).


I am not saying only in LA. I am just mentioning it is not used here even by native speakers from my experience. I wonder if it is transmitted to local Japanese speaking groups outside of Japan and what the expectations are.

Not used as much

It’s generally used in specific contexts. If you’re just hanging out with people, they aren’t going to use keigo. It would be very unusual if they did. If on the other hand you went to a business, it would be normal for them to use keigo with customers.


Yes, that is true. Thank you

I’m not really a Keigo expert, from what I read even natives don’t really know the finer points anymore (of course many still do).

For example in simple service jobs in convenience stores or restaurants in Japan people just parrot sentences from a manual. Even widely used set sentences could be considered “wrong Keigo”.

If you can easily embarrass yourself, you only use it when you are forced to.


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