Honorifics is a very intricate and complicated system. Although it is without a doubt that a native Japanese speaker naturally has a decent control of honorifics, nearly half of all speakers complain of lacking confidence in using honorifics. The other half complains about how others ‘incorrectly’ use honorifics. Several patterns warrant special attention because they are new and or questionable. It is important to be things that are frequently used, even if those things are unorthodox in anyway.
Having said this, in this lesson we will study the intriguing phrase ni narimasu になります・[ni/to] natte orimasu に・となっております．
We should know by now that the verb naru 成る is used in a wide variety of situations.
Kōri ga mizu ni narimasu.
Ice turns into water.
Kampōyaku wa karada no tame ni narimasu.
Chinese herbal medicine benefits the body.
Kekkon shite jūnen ni narimasu.
It will be ten years since I got married.
Osewa ni narimasu.
I will be in your aid.
Phrase Note: This is a set phrase used in formal situations when one is corresponding and or addressing someone to whom will be in your aid in some endeavor.
Eoria shotō wa nanatsu no kazantō kara narimasu.
The Aeolian Islands are made up of seven volcanic islands.
Okyaku-sama ga otsuki ni narimashita.
The customer has arrived.
Grammar Note: O- お＋Verb Stem + ni naru になる, as we have learned, is one of the fundamental means of making most verbs honorific.
Zembu de jūman’en ni narimasu.
It will reach 100,000 yen in total.
The usages thus far are well-established in Japanese, but we have yet to explore its unorthodox usage that is now used extensively in customer service honorific speech.
'Convenience Store' Honorifics: ni narimasu になります
So what is it about ni narimasu になります that is problematic? The issue at hand is that ni narimasu になります is a hallmark phrase of what is called baito keigo バイト敬語. Although the name suggests that it is only used at part time jobs, baito keigo is actually used by people in all walks of professions, especially if the job has anything to do with customer service.
The issue at hand here is when ni narimasu になります is used in the sense of desuです or de gozaimasu でございます.
Kochira ga ryōshūsho ni narimasu.
Kochira ga ryōshūsho [desu/de gozaimasu].
Both sentences mean, “This is the receipt.” However, because naru なる’s primary meaning expresses change of state, many speakers find it ungrammatical for means of simply avoiding a declarative statement. Nothing is becoming the receipt. The receipt is the receipt.
There are important counterarguments to consider. Pretend that you are a waiter. Your customer orders iced coffee. You go to the back and fetch what your customer ordered, and then you return to the customer’s table and present it. In a psychological sense, one could say that the cup of iced coffee you have in your hand is simply a cup with a cold, dark liquid in it from the customer’s viewpoint.
Kochira, gochūmon no aisukōhii ni narimasu.
This is the iced coffee you ordered.
Instead of outright stating that it IS iced coffee, you present the iced coffee as something that has potentially gone from being an unknown entity to being the iced coffee the customer had asked for. In this sense, ni narimasu になります becomes a conduit for presenting things without it sounding like you’re stating the obvious. Additionally, this serves as a means of avoiding responsibility if you messed up somehow.
10. お会計、６０００円｛になります △・です ○・でございます ○｝。
Okaikei, rokusen’en [ni narimasu/desu/de gozaimasu].
Your total is 6000 yen.
Example Note: The total of the bill is not inherently the worker’s fault. If the consumer is spending that much at said establishment, then it is the consumer’s responsibility to pay for the goods and or services the stated value. Therefore, it is strange at best why an employee would wish to shift blame away from himself for the cost of the consumer’s bill. However, there is a principle in customer service that the customer is always right.
The pursuit of addressing all customers with the utmost respect and care also places pressure on the worker to also cover for his and the establishment’s own misgivings if any exist. For all one knows, the 6000-yen purchase may actually only be 5600 because a discount wasn’t properly taken into account. Since the possibilities of what could go wrong at the cash register are endless, one could say that the reason why ni narimasu になります is here to stay is that it is the best means of the workers to cover face and yet be polite to the consumer at the same time.
Terminology Note: Customer service honorifics may also go by the names baitogo バイト語, kombini keigo コンビニ敬語, famiresu keigo ファミレス敬語, famikon kotoba ファミコン言葉, etc.
To narimasu となります & [ni/to] natte orimasu｛に・と｝なっております
In addition to ni narimasu になります, there is also to narimasu となります, and [ni/to] natte orimasu に・となっております to consider. The usage of the particle to と is meant to enhance formality. The use of に・となっております is meant to indicate that a situation is and has been so but in a manner that shifts responsibility away from the speaker. One can also say that the use of this form simply follows the general rule of thumb that the longer the phrase, the politer it is. However, with each time it’s used, the “but why?” response from the listener becomes ever more justified.
11. 本日のランチは、冷やし中華定食｛となっております △・でございます ○｝。
Honjitsu no ranchi wa, hiyashi chūka teishoku [to natte orimasu/de gozaimasu].
As for today’s lunch, the special of the day is chilled Chinese days.
Example Note: When it is a waiter that is saying this, one can easily see how he or she is trying to avoid responsibility for the management’s decision for having the special of the day be as such. Yet, the worker is by default a spokesperson of the establishment when telling customers about the day’s special. The use of to natte orimasu となっております conversely emphasizes the value in what the special is to many speakers, which is unnecessary.
12. こちらが麻婆豆腐定食｛となっております △・です ○・でございます ○｝。
Kochira ga mābō-dōfu teishoku [to natte orimasu/desu/de gozaimasu].
This the mapo doufu special.
Example Note: Just as with the previous example, too much emphasis is conversely attached to the value of the special, making this statement verging on boasting, an ironic conclusion to avoiding responsibility for what it is.
13. 明日が期限｛に/と・なっております △・です ○｝。
Asu ga kigen [ni/to natte orimasu/desu].
The deadline is tomorrow.
Example Note: This example sentence is indicative of a worker telling a coworker, perhaps someone of higher status at the place of employment, that the deadline is tomorrow. As such, the relationship between the speaker and listener is not as inherently distant as is the case between unacquainted customer and server. This is why the particle ni に may manifest here. However, because the phrase ni/to natte orimasu に・となっております, overall, implies shifting responsibility, that in and of itself is unpleasant in the workplace. As such, this worker will most likely be corrected to simply use desu です instead.
14. 当店は、女性専用｛となっております △・とさせて頂いています ○・ でございます ○｝。
Tōten wa, josei sen’yō [to natte orimasu/to sasete itadaite imasu/de gozaimasu].
This store is exclusive to women.
Example Note: In this example, the use of to natte orimasu となっております shifts the blame away from the establishment for being women-exclusive, which at face value is ludicrous. As such, most speakers prefer that to sasete itadaite imasu とさせていただいています be used because this pattern expresses a willful decision that was taken out of discretion toward those affected.
Another thing to consider is to why ni/to narimasu に・となります and ni/to natte orimasu に・となっております cause the listener discomfort is because naru なる not only shows change, but the change it describes is not one caused by someone. Purposely using it in a situation where the situation (which may change) is most certainly caused by someone is yet another reason for why these phrases are interpreted as avoiding responsibility/blame. Using desu です or de gozaimasu でございます avoids this situation, and if the statement may still be perceived as being rude to the listener(s), then cushion words like kyōshuku desu ga 恐縮ですが (I’m terribly sorry to trouble you, but…), osoreimasu ga 恐れ入りますが (Pardon me for troubling you, but…), mōshiwake gozaimasen ga 申し訳ございませんが (I am terribly sorry, but…) may be used to enhance politeness, thus making the phrases in question unnecessary.
15. お支払いは銀行振込のみ｛となります △・です ○・ でございます ○｝。
Oshiharai wa ginkō furikomi [to narimasu/desu/de gozaimasu].
Payment is only by bank transfer.
Example Note: Consumers, hearing this with to narimasu となります, have every reason to retort, “But why? Is there not any other form of payment, and why is this the only one you offer?”
16. 駅構内は禁煙｛となります △・です ○・でございます ○｝。
Eki kōnai wa kin’en [to narimasu/desu/de gozaimasu].
The inside of the train station is nonsmoking.
Example Note: Smokers, hearing this statement with to narimasu となります, may retort, “Well why can’t we smoke?”
When ni/to narimasu に・となります & ni/to natte orimasu に・となっております are Correct
As was demonstrated at the beginning of this lesson, there are indeed instances when these phrases are correct, which is when the verb naru なる is used in its traditional means. In the following examples, naru なる is used in the sense of showing some natural state, perhaps a change, benefit, or reaching some status. Also, as usually, the use of te imasu/orimasu ています・おります is determined by normal grammar. If it is a state that has been the case, you use them. If you are stating said situation with any degree of formality orimasu おります is used instead of imasu います.
Tamanegi wo itamete juppunkan hi wo tōshita mono ga, kochira ni narimasu.
This is what becomes of sautéing and cooking onions for ten minutes.
Spelling Note: Tamanegi may alternatively be spelled as 玉葱.
Reading Note: １０分間 may also be read as jippunkan.
Burukāno-tō wa “kazan” wo imi suru “volcano” to iu eitango sono mono no gogen to natte imasu.
Vulcano Island is the very origin of the English word “volcano” meaning “kazan.”
Kono kanwa jiten de wa, jōyō kanji no yomi wa akamoji to natte orimasu.
In this Chinese-Japanese character dictionary, Joyo Kanji readings are in red.
The Validity of ni narimasu になります and Others
The use of these phrases in honorifics to replace the copula is here to stay. Language is always evolving along with culture. Because this usage is here to stay, it is important to become familiar with them and understand what people mean when they use them. It is no longer the case that a large majority even views this usage as incorrect anymore; thus, labeling it as incorrect and ignoring it is no longer an option. As a Japanese learner, you must understand that if you ever absorb Japanese media or go to Japanese establishments, this will be used and used extensively. It is also a part of the regular honorific speech of people outside of the workplace, too.
Otearai wa achira ni narimasu.
The bathroom is over there.
Kochira ga kaigishitsu ni narimasu.
This is the meeting room
Sambyakugojūen no otsuri ni narimasu.
Your change is 350 yen.
Maishū getsuyobi wa teikyūbi to natte orimasu.
Our fixed day off is Monday of every week.
Honjitsu, ame no yohō to natte orimasu node, oki wo tsukete, okoshi kudasai.
Today, the forecast is rain, and so please be careful when you come.
Pointo no ichibu wo goriyō ni narimasu ka?
Would you like to use your points?
Example Note: This last example is an instance of the correct use of the pattern o/go- お・ご + Verb Stem + ni narimasu になります.