第123課: Titles

  One's title is important in society, especially Japanese society. Sometimes, it’s so important that it’s how you’re addressed. Last lesson, you were introduced to embellishments called 呼称(こしょう) that attach to people’s names and provide insight to their relation with you or whoever’s speaking. You were also introduced to the concept of 呼び()て, which is not using a 呼称 at all, and when it’s okay to address people solely by their names (casual circumstances). 

The World of Titles

     The most recognizable title in Japanese is 先生, an honorific word which literally means "one born earlier." 先生 refers to teachers, professionals, and leaders. Like a 呼称, it must not be used to refer to oneself. The reason for this is that in honorifics, you are supposed to be humble in speaking about yourself. 

     Titles may differ in wording depending on whether you are referring to someone else or oneself, but there is always a way to phrase someone’s title, putting aside who exactly one is talking about. Embellishing with  呼称 is a good way at bridging the gap between referring to one’s own occupation to referring to someone else; however, many occupations suffice alone as titles. This is because the large majority of occupation terms are neutral in honorifics, and using them in tangent with a surname is usually all you need to do. However, it’s important to study how individual words are used to get all this correct.

  Now it’s time to expand your vocabulary by absorbing many of the common occupation words you may encounter. Some may function like 呼称 while others will simply function as standalone words. For instance, you may talk about your boss as 上司, but you’ll refer to him in person by his actual position. 


  The best way to learn when to use what and how is not by staring at a list of words but by seeing them used in action. Word notes will be provided per example sentence to give you information about how titles are used and how they may be used outside the example itself. 

1. 課長、新規(しんき)の見積(書)をご覧になりましたか。
Chief, have you seen the new quote?

Word Note: The word 課長, meaning "(department) chief," is both a title and an occupation. 

2. アメリカのトランプ次期大統領(じきだいとうりょう)にメキシコ工場の建設計画(けんせつけいかく)批判(ひはん)されているトヨタ自動車の豊田章男社長(とよだあきおしゃちょう)は9日、アメリカのデトロイトで開かれているモーターショーに出席し、アメリカで今後5年の間に100(おく)ドル((いっ)兆円以上(ちょうえんいじょう))を投資(とうし)する計画になっていることを明らかにしました。
Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota Motor Corporation, who has been criticized by President-elect (Donald) Trump for plans to construct a factory in Mexico, while attending an auto show being held in Detroit in America on the ninth, revealed that the company has made plans to invest over 10 billion dollars (over 1 trillion yen) into America in coming five years. 

From NHK on 1/9/17.

Word Note: トランプ次期大統領 incorporates a “surname + occupation.” (次期)大統領 may be used as a standalone word. 

Word Note: The company president of Toyota Motor Corporation is Akio Toyoda. He is referred to initially by the “full name of the company + full name + title.” Workers of his company would undoubtedly refer to him as 社長. Other mentions of him in the article would have abbreviated his full address to just “surname + title” (豊田社長).

3. 薬師寺やくしじ村上太胤管主むらかみたいいんかんしゅは「東塔とうとう再建さいけん順調じゅんちょうに進んでいくものと心強く思っています」と話していました。
Tai'in Murakami, the chief abbot of Yakushi-ji, spoke of the matter saying, “I’m strongly reassured that the reconstruction of the East Tower is to proceed steadily.”
From NHK on 1/9/17.

Word Note: 管主 refers to the chief abbot of a temple, and depending on the sect, it may alternatively be 貫首(かんじゅ), 座主(ざす), etc.

4. 台湾たいわん蔡英文総統さiえいぶんそうとうは、外交関係がいこうかんけいのある中米ちゅうべい4か国を訪問ほうもんするのを前に8日、経由地けいゆちのアメリカ南部テキサスしゅうのヒューストンで、地元選出じもとせんしゅつ若手わかて有力政治家ゆうりょくせいじかの1人である共和党きょうわとうのテッド・クルーズ上院議員と会談かいだんしました。
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on the eighth, before traveling to four Central American nations with which Taiwan has diplomatic relations, met with Republican Senator Ted Cruz, a young, local elected political star, at her transit point in Houston, which is located in the south of the U.S.
From NHK on 1/9/17.

Word Note: The president of some countries, Taiwan being an example, is called 総統. Senator in Japanese is “上院議員.” 議員 simply means “assemblyman” and can be used in a variety of government/bureaucracy related terminology.

5. おととし、町長(ちょうちょう)と数人の議員たちが逮捕(たいほ)されるという不祥事(ふしょうじ)が起きました。
Two years ago, there was a scandal in which the town mayor and several assembly members were arrested.

Word Note: 町長 is both a title and an occupation.

6. これに関連(かんれん)して中国外務省(ちゅうごくがいむしょう)陸慷(りくこう)報道官(ほうどうかん)は9日の記者会見(きしゃかいけん)
In the context of this, Press Secretary of Chinese Foreign Affairs, Lu Kang, in a press interview on the ninth…
From NHK on 1/9/17.

Word Note:  中国外務省の陸慷報道官 utilizes the occupation/title 報道官. ~官 is a suffix meaning “officer” that you’ll see in several other titles/occupations.

7. FIFAは9日、去年の年間最優秀選手(ねんかんさいゆうしゅうせんしゅ)を発表し、男子は、ポルトガル代表(だいひょう)のキャプテンで、スペイン(いち)()リーグ、レアルマドリードのエース、クリスチアーノロナウド選手(せんしゅ)が選ばれました。
On the ninth, FIFA announced the Player of the Year of 2016, choosing Cristiano Ronaldo for man of the year, who is a leading player in Real Madrid, a soccer league of Spain, as a captain representing Portugal.
From NHK on 1/10/17.

Word Note: Many titles/occupations are mentioned here. Firstly, 代表 is used after some “group/organization/country name” to demarcate a representative (代表者). キャプテン is, clearly, a title for “captain (of a team),” and 選手 is used after the name of athletes. 

8. 青森山田高校あおもりやまだこうこう黒田剛監督くろだごうかんとくは「去年3位に終わってから、リベンジしたいと頑張ってきた」とうれしそうに話していました。
Couch Gō Kuroda of Aomoriyamada High School spoke happily saying, “Since ending in third place last year, we’ve worked hard to get our revenge.”
From NHK on 1/9/17.

Word Note: 監督 is a title. Aside from meaning “coach,” it may also be used to mean director as in 映画監督. The occupation word for this is 監督者. For instance, 管理監督者 would mean “Management Superintendent.”

Word Note: ~者 is a suffix meaning “person,” but using it to refer to oneself is typically inappropriate. You should always rephrase it out in that case. Often times, ~人 is appropriate. Or, you could just not use a suffix after the occupation word in question.

9. 私はマンションの管理(人)をやっています。
    I manage apartments.

10. 安倍総理大臣あべそうりだいじんはサウジアラムコの東証とうしょうへの上場じょうじょう直接依頼ちょくせついらいした。
Prime Minister Abe directly requested for Saudi Aramco’s to be listed in the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
From NHK on 1/6/17.

Word Note: 総理大臣 is both a title and occupation.

11. 清田きよたCEOは首都しゅとリヤドに到着後とうちゃくご、ようやく待ち望んだ朗報ろうほうを受け取りました。
CEO Kiyota at last received the good news he had been waiting for after arriving at Riyadh the capital.
From NHK on 1/6/17.

Word Note: CEO is translated into Japanese as 最高経営責任者(さいこうけいえいせきにんしゃ). Although this word is also used, it is far more practical and common to see CEO used instead.

12. 清田CEOは、最大さいだいのキーマンともくするムハンマド副皇太子ふくこうたいしと30分間、サウジアラムコの会長かいちょう兼務けんむするファリハ・エネルギー産業鉱物資源相さんぎょうこうぶつしげんしょういち時間弱じかんじゃく、それぞれ会談かいだんし、東証の魅力みりょくをアピールしました。CEO Kiyota respectively met with the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed, who is also deemed the most key influential person, for thirty minutes as well as Al-Falih, the minister of the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources as well as the chairman Saudi Aramco, for a little less than an hour to appeal to the glamour of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.  
From NHK on 1/6/17.

Word Note: 副~  is a prefix attached to titles/occupations meaning “vice-/deputy…”

Word Note: 皇太子 means “Crown Prince” and is both a title and an occupation.

Word Note: 会長 is a title and may mean “the president (of a society)” or “chairman (of the board of directors).”

Word Note: ~(しょう)  is a suffix meaning “minister” that appears at the end of the official name of a ministry.

13. サウジアラビアの重要閣僚(じゅうようかくりょう)は、日本の大手石油元売(おおてせきゆもとう)会社(がいしゃ)首脳(しゅのう)にも電話をかけ、法案撤回(ほうあんてっかい)への日本の協力を要請(ようせい)しました。
Key cabinet members of the Saudi Arabian cabinet even gave calls to the head leaders of major Japanese oil refiner-distributors seeking Japan’s support to overturn the law.
From NHK on 1/6/17.

Word Note: 閣僚 means “cabinet members” and is inherently plural. Together they form the cabinet (内閣閣僚(ないかくかくりょう)). A member (構成員) of the cabinet is referred to as a 国務大臣(こくむだいじん). In direct reference to being a cabinet member, you would use 閣僚委員(かくりょういいん). 閣僚 is only an occupation, and in order to make it a title, you would need to use 閣僚委員.

Word Note: 首脳 is an occupation and may refer to a head of state or head leader(s) of an organization/company. To use it in reference to someone, you might see it used in a sentence like below.

14. 世界には一国(いっこく)の政府首脳を(つと)める女性が意外(いがい)とたくさんいます。
      There are surprisingly a lot of women who are heads of state in the world.

15. ムハンマド副皇太子は、中国で習近平(しゅうきんぺい)国家主席(こっかしゅせき)会談(かいだん)、ロシアではプーチン大統領と会談するなど、精力的(せいりょくてき)に世界を飛び回っています。
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed energetically flew around the world meeting with President Xi Jinping of China, President Putin of Russia, etc.
From NHK on 1/6/17.

Word Note: The word for “president” in reference to China is 国家主席. Other words for president yet to be mentioned in this lesson include 頭取 for president of a bank, 理事長 meaning “director,” and 総裁, which is the president of a major organization such as the Bank of Japan, hospitals, etc.

16. 落成式らくせいしきでは阿部秀保市長あべひでおしちょうが「6年生が卒業する前に、新しい校舎こうしゃで学んでもらおうと完成かんせいを目指し、努力してきました。この校舎は復興ふっこうのシンボルです」とあいさつしました。
City Mayor Hideo Abe greeted (attendees) at the completion ceremony saying, "We have worked hard aiming to complete this new schoolhouse for our sixth graders to learn in before graduating (primary school).  This school building is a symbol of restoration.”
From NHK on 1/9/17.

Word Note: 市長, meaning “city mayor,” is both a title and an occupation.

17. 宮野森小学校(みやのもりしょうがっこう)相澤日出夫校長(あいざわひでおこうちょう)は「すばらしい校舎が完成し、感謝しています。地域(ちいき)の復興に向けて、いい学びの()にしていきたい」と話していました。
Principal Hideo Aizawa of Miyanomori Elementary School spoke saying, “We are greatly thankful that this wonderful schoolhouse has been completed. We look forward to having this be a great learning place as we head towards restoring the region.”
From NHK on 1/9/17.

Word Note: 校長, meaning “principal (of a school),” is both a title and an occupation.

18. 私は20年教師(きょうし)をしています。
      I’ve been a teacher for twenty years.

Word Note: 教師 is the occupation of “teaching.” Teachers are referred to as 先生. However, one must never refer to oneself as such.

19. オーキド博士(はかせ)からポケモンを(もら)えるって聞いたけど、本当?
      I heard that you can get a Pokemon from Professor Oak, but is that true?

Word Note: 博士 in professional words like Doctorate Degree (博士号) it is pronounced as はくし, but in general use, it is usually pronounced as はかせ.

Final Notes

  When an occupation is used as a title in conjunction with someone’s name, a 呼称 is not necessary. Whenever you are calling someone by his or her occupation, a 呼称 is often necessary. For instance, a store clerk is a 店員, but you’ll need to refer to him/her as 店員さん. In the same token, your doctor is an 医者, but you refer to him/her as お医者さん.

  Not all occupations can or ought to be used as titles. This means “occupation +さん” is not a fix all solution, but ~さん・様 will still likely be needed. Your lawyer is a 弁護士(べんごし). However, you won’t call him/her in person as 弁護士さん. You may refer to him/her as such in writing, but in person, you’d refer to him/her by surname +さん.

  Some occupations sound quite wordy and technical if used in the spoken language. In such cases, different phrases may be used altogether. For instance, 警察官(けいさつかん) means “police officer.” You may see people refer to police officers as 警察官さん(たち), but in conversation, you’ll hear the word お(まわ)りさん to prevent the awkwardness of using such a wordy title. 

先輩 vs. 後輩

  Lastly, to conclude this lesson, we will study the well-known words 先輩 and 後輩, which have gained worldwide attention due to their overuse in anime and manga. Most people outside Japan, however, don’t really understand how they’re used.

  If I were your boss, I wouldn't be your 先輩. I would be your 上司. Even then, you would need to call me by the appropriate title. You don't call your teacher 先輩 either. Even if your 先生 happened to be younger than you, you would not call him/him your 後輩.

  先輩 means "senior" as in being ahead in rank. In school everyone in grades above you is your 先輩. In reverse, you are their 後輩. Everyone in the school, though, is a 学生. 先輩 and 後輩 can be used like 呼称 and as stand-alone words. This is also the case for words like 先生. Teacher and student are complete opposites, and the teacher has a position that should be respected. Thus, you should use neither 先輩 or 後輩 in speaking to him/her.

  Whether or not you can refer to athletes or what not as your 先輩 or 後輩 is dictated by the social circumstances at hand. Are you part of the team? Are you an extremely obsessed female fan that adores a member and affectionately refers to him as 先輩? There is a lot to keep in mind, but it is safe to say that if you find a usage in the wild that fits your situation, it is probably safe to use it likewise, assuming that you don't solely read odd manga series.