If I wanted to sound more like a Samurai, what words and phrases should I learn?

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Having watched jidai-geki for a long time, I have come across many Samurai-isms, but I can recall only a few. I would like to be able to do this more believably the next time I'm at the Izakaya.

What words and phrases are most commonly heard in jidai geki or period anime that would achieve this goal?

crunchyt

Posted 2011-06-06T04:36:50.817

Reputation: 4 337

I realise this is slightly subjective, but where else do you ask this kind of question?? A tick will be awarded to the answer with the best coverage. :D – crunchyt – 2011-06-06T04:38:40.710

May be, read the comics? – YOU – 2011-06-06T04:44:09.960

We can make this a community wiki, so everyone can answer and the question is not "subjective" anymore. – Alenanno – 2011-06-06T07:47:35.413

what a cool question hahaha :) +1 – Herr – 2011-06-11T07:52:31.577

Watch japanese samurai movies with real actors, one my sensei let us watch some of those if we finish the test very soon :P – Vicfred – 2011-06-06T05:04:42.460

You should watch the anime Rurouni Kenshin, or read the mangas (since when you read you can be 100% sure of what's written ^^) – Rolf – 2011-06-11T07:57:46.320

This seems to be the exact opposite of this answer, where the answerer worried that "We could see 20 years old boys talking like 10 years old kawai girls or 20 years old girls talking like yakuzas!"

– Andrew Grimm – 2011-10-15T14:20:31.683

Answers

19

Well, there is indeed a stereotypical "Samurai way of talking" that you can see in Samurai films or in historical dramas (時代劇, Jidaigeki) on TV, but it's far from being authentic. In fact, Samurai talked in many different ways, depending on the era and their home province (after all, they were speaking in their dialect).

As far as I know, the stereotypical Samurai speech in Jidaigeki is actually based on the Edo dialect of late Edo period. Many of the mannerisms you'd find in this speech do not specifically represent Samurai, but rather a typical resident of Edo in that particular time.

The most striking feature of this speech is the complete absence of the modern ~ます forms, which are sometimes replaced by other polite forms, but very often find Keigo used with plain forms. The most noticeable alternative polite form of this Edo-jidai speech is probably the polite/humble copula で御座る which is often used wholesale instead of any other copula. Just note that is copula is considered humble, so usually when speaking about someone else (at least someone you'd want to respectful to :)), you'd use the honorific copula でいらっしゃる instead of で御座る. For instance:

拙者は侍でござる。

But when asking someone else for their name:

どなたでいらっしゃるか?

Note the first-person pronoun I used in the first example. 拙者 (せっしゃ) also highly identified with Samurai speech. It literally means something like "clumsy person", so it's a humble pronoun of course. In Jidaigeki, some Samurai use it, but the more haughty ones would probably use a different pronoun, such as おれ。

Another personal pronoun that's highly identified with Samurai speech is the second person pronoun お主. Again, you won't see every Jidaigeki Samurai using it, but it's highly stereotypical.

Boaz Yaniv

Posted 2011-06-06T04:36:50.817

Reputation: 12 049

​​​​​​​​​​​ +1 for ござる – YOU – 2011-06-06T08:46:58.347

I was thinking of 拙者は and ござる, too. But you are right, these are the stereotypical Samurai speech rather than how the real Samurai spoke. – Tsuyoshi Ito – 2011-06-06T13:06:26.477

(tick) I liked the differentiation you drew between actual and stereotypical. You've broadened my horizons. – crunchyt – 2011-06-14T13:31:37.877

@crunchyt: I'm glad I did, since it's very easy to mix up the two. :) – Boaz Yaniv – 2011-06-14T18:05:04.950

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For a good start, all you need is to watch Rurouni Kenshin and start imitating.

Pacerier

Posted 2011-06-06T04:36:50.817

Reputation: 11 470

This is actually a good idea to get some practice, since Kenshin himself sticks to a stereotypical Samurai-speech. Except for the おろ. :D But you should note that most other characters have a completely modern language (with some pompous anime archaisms, but otherwise modern). – Boaz Yaniv – 2011-06-14T18:07:56.977

1@Boaz yea lol i had a shock when i checked what is おろ in the dictionary.. – Pacerier – 2011-06-15T02:24:40.817

-1

The first word I'd learn is "bushido." Which translates into "warrior code."

You might also learn words like "on" (obligation) and "giri" (duty). These are concepts used by the chivalric samurai.

Tom Au

Posted 2011-06-06T04:36:50.817

Reputation: 7

Haha, I smiled when I saw this one. I've been a student of budo for 17 years :D Boaz's answer was more what I was looking for. Thx tho. – crunchyt – 2011-06-14T13:30:47.097