Ep. 2 Commentary - Toby Self-Intro


Dialogue

トビ:

()めまして。
はじめまして。
Hi.

トビです。
I’m Toby.

アメリカのカリフォルニア()から()ました。
アメリカ の カリフォルニアしゅう から きました。
I’m from California.

()英語()教師()として()いています。
いま は えいご の きょうし として はたらいています。
Right now, I’m working as an English Teacher.

二年前東京()()ました。
にねんまえ とうきょう に きました。
I came to Tokyo two years ago.

趣味()料理()です。
しゅみ は りょうり です。
My hobby is cooking.

よろしくお()いします。
よろしく おねがい します。
Nice to meet you.


Commentary Transcript

For our first video, we meet the main character of our story—Toby, as he gives a self-introduction. I’m not totally sure why, but it’s really common to give self-introductions in Japan. The first time that I studied Japanese at a school in Tokyo, the very first thing that I was asked to do on the very first day of class was to give a self-introduction, or, in Japanese, a 自己紹介 (じこしょうかい).

紹介 means “introduction.” And if you add する to it, then 紹介する means “to introduce.”

自己 means “oneself,” and it’s not the most common word, except when it’s used as a part of 自己紹介.

Anyways, at that time in my Japanese studies, I was pretty comfortable with greetings and meeting people, but I was pretty hard-pressed to give a little speech about myself, even if it was only thirty seconds. As such, the purpose of this video is partly to meet Toby and partly to get an understanding of how to give your own standard 自己紹介 should the need arise (for example, as a new student or employee in Japan).

The standard self-introduction covers all of the following:

  • Name
  • Hometown
  • Job (or Major)
  • Place of Residence
  • Hobbies

To be honest, I was hesitant to include a self-introduction video, because I think that they’re kind of silly. At the same time, though, I’ve had to give them on a number of occasions, so I should probably include this.

The self-introduction might seem a bit formulaic, but that’s exactly the way that Japanese people seem to like it. It’s almost like someone is giving you a list of things you say, and all you need to do is recite it… boring! That’s why we’ll also see some more interesting self-introductions later, such as Miki’s.

Here’s what Toby says…

トビ:

()めまして。
はじめまして。
Hi.

トビです。
I’m Toby.

This is by far the easiest way to start a self-introduction. 初めまして often gets translated to “nice to meet you,” but that doesn’t always seem like the right translation to me, because it’s often (though not always) the first thing that Japanese people say when they meet you. In my experience in the English-speaking world, saying “Nice to meet you” tends to come after we exchange names with someone. Although I do hear it both ways.

Anyways, thanks to 初めまして, when most Japanese people meet someone, and they’re speaking English, the first thing they’ll say is “Nice to meet you,” even though technically they haven’t met that person yet, they’re about to meet them.

If I had to translate 初めまして literally, I’d say it’s something like “Hi (for the first time).” That’s why, in the English translation of this video, I simply wrote “Hi” for 初めまして. You can just go ahead and memorize it as-is, then say that every time you’re saying “Hi” to something for the first time. In other words, whenever you meet someone for the first time.

Next Toby says トビです. If you check out the Bunkai Beast Grammar Guide, you can check out my ridiculously long explanation of the versatility and many uses of the word です. Or, if you hate reading about grammar, you can just trust me when I say that it expresses state-of-being, and in this case トビです means “Toby is.”

When I first learned this sentence way back in my first ever Japanese class, they always told me that I should say 私はニコです (わたし は ニコ です) (or in this case, 私はトビです). But since I just said 初めまして (which kind of means “nice to meet you,”) then it’s already obvious from context that I’m talking about myself, so I don’t really need to say 私は, and anytime that I can get away with not saying a word thanks to context, I don’t say it… as you’ll see about 12,000 times across all of the learning resources that I develop.

For your own personal self-introduction script, all you need to memorize is this so far…

  • 初めまして ( = “Hi (for the first time).” )
  • [Your Name] です ( = “I’m [Your Name].” )

Let’s see what Toby says next…

トビ:

アメリカのカリフォルニア()から()ました。
アメリカ の カリフォルニアしゅう から きました。
I’m from California.

A word-for-word breakdown of this sentence looks like this:

  • California (State ) (of America)
  • From
  • Came

Translated into a more human-sounding sentence, we get: “I’m from California.”

Toby is allowed to say, literally, “I came from America,” because he’s in Japan while he’s saying this sentence. If he were in America, then he’d have to say something like アメリカ出身です (アメリカ しゅっしん です) which literally means I’m from America. Or he could even just say アメリカ人です (アメリカじん です), “I’m American.”

Personally, I like telling people in Japan that I’m from California (specifically, San Diego), and the main reason for that is that I just got kind of tired of the constant American stereotyping. Sometimes I feel like everyone in Japan expects me to be an expert on hamburgers and baseball. Sometimes saying I’m from California or San Diego can generate a slightly more interesting response, but usually not, unfortunately.

By the way, the pronunciation of California in Japanese is probably the word that I have the most trouble pronouncing in this entire language: カリフォルニア. I always forget the correct pronunciation, saying weird thing like カフォルニア. But it’s カリ カリ カリ カリフォルニア. One day I’ll get it right.

So now altogether we have:

  • 初めまして ( = “Hi (for the first time).” )
  • [Your Name] です ( = “I’m [Your Name].” )
  • [Your Hometown] から来ました ( = “I’m from [Your Hometown].” )

The next thing Toby says is…

トビ:

()英語()教師()として()いています。
いま は えいご の きょうし として はたらいています。
Right now, I’m working as an English Teacher.

Okay, so there is quite a lot going on in this sentence. First, let’s take a look at what each word means:

  • Now
  • English
  • Teacher or tutor
  • As
  • Working

Knowing each of those words, the English translation is quite understandable: “Right now, I’m working as an English teacher.” I want to point out, however, that the nuance of this sentence is a bit different than if Toby had simply said 英語の教師です (えいご の きょうし です), which would mean “I am an English teacher.”

Much as the nuance of the English, this second phrasing sounds a bit like that’s Toby’s career, but the sentence from the dialog sounds more like this is just Toby’s current job, not necessarily a permanent job, not necessarily something that defines him.

This is thanks to the present progressive tense, which is shown in the conjugation of 働く (はたらく) “to work” as 働いています (はたらいています) “I am working.” It sounds even more like a temporary thing, because Toby makes a point of including the word 今, “now,” which in the dialog I translated to “right now.”

として is kind of a tricky bit of Japanese grammar, but for the purposes of this dialog let it just suffice to say that it means “as” when referring to a person’s work. We can say…

[job title] + として働いています in order to express, “I’m working as [job title].”

Speaking of job titles, note that Toby says 英語の教師. He does not say 英語の先生 (えいご の せんせい), because 先生 is more of a respectful term, and it would sound a bit rude to call yourself. The word 教師 does not have the nuance of a position of prestige, instead it just means “teaching person,” much like a “tutor” or “teacher.”

Sometimes you’ll also see the title 講師 (こうし), which is similar to 教師 (きょうし), but also quite different. If Toby had said that he was an 英語の講師, then I would picture him working as an English lecturer, maybe even at a college or something, speaking in front of groups of people. And 英語の教師, on the other hand, probably works at an English conversation school or something a little bit less impressive (like all of the teaching jobs that I’ve ever had, haha).

So far, for your own custom 自己紹介, we have:

  • 初めまして ( = “Hi (for the first time).” )
  • [Your Name] です ( = “I’m [Your Name].” )
  • [Your Hometown] から来ました ( = “I’m from [Your Hometown].” )
  • [Job Title] です OR [Job Title] として働いています ( = “I’m a [job title].” / “I’m working as a [job title].”)

Next, Toby talks about when he came to Tokyo, saying…

トビ:

二年前東京()()ました。
にねんまえ とうきょう に きました。
I came to Tokyo two years ago.

Here Toby mentions how long he’s been in Tokyo. Specifically, he says “I came to Tokyo two years ago.”

  • Two / Year / Before → Two Years Ago
  • Tokyo
  • Came
  • To

= “I came to Tokyo two years ago.”

You probably won’t need this sentence unless you’re living in Japan, but it could come in handy if and when you go there.

Personally, I think I’d skip it in my own self-intro. I like to keep things short and sweet.

Next, he says…

トビ:

趣味()料理()です。
しゅみ は りょうり です。
My hobby is cooking.

This is a pretty straightforward sentence, and its translation is “My hobby is cooking.”

Personally, I think that the word “hobby,” in English, gets thrown around a little too much in Japan. But I think that the Japanese equivalent of the word “hobby,” which is 趣味 (しゅみ) does not really have the same level of seriousness or interest as the word “hobby.” I’m not too sure, to be honest. As such, I was tempted to translate this sentence to just “I like cooking,” but in the end I thought that maybe, just maybe, “My hobby is cooking” was a bit closer to the Japanese meaning, after all.

It’s totally normal to ask people what their hobby is, saying (quite formally): “趣味は何ですか” (しゅみ は なん ですか).

Or if you want to sound a bit more aloof and cool (and casual), you might say 趣味とかあるの?: “Do you have any hobbies (or anything)?” That’s usually what I opt for.

When telling people your “hobby,” (if you have one, that is), all you have to say is 趣味は [Noun] です

I could talk about the use of nouns in Japanese for 28 years, and I do in the Bunkai Beast grammar guide, but for now let’s just say that just about any noun you want could go into that sentence. And if you want to use the noun form of a verb (for example, “eating,” then you can just stick 事 to the end of it.

食べる(たべる)= to eat
食べること(たべること)= (the act of) eating

Making this sentence is pretty easy, so it’s a nice addition to a simple self-intro, if you ever have to make one. So far here’s what we have (skipping the thing about two years in Tokyo):

  • 初めまして ( = “Hi (for the first time).” )
  • [Your Name] です ( = “I’m [Your Name].” )
  • [Your Hometown] から来ました ( = “I’m from [Your Hometown].” )
  • [Job Title] です OR [Job Title] として働いています ( = “I’m a [job title].” / “I’m working as a [job title].”)
  • 趣味は [Noun]です ( = “My hobby is [noun].” )

Last but not least, we have…

トビ:

よろしくお()いします。
よろしく おねがい します。
Nice to meet you.

I feel like I’ve tried explaining the word よろしく like a hundred times… then later I see it used in a different way than I explained, and it remember just how versatile this word is. Basically, it means something like “please treat me well.” In the phrase above, we add お願いします (a polite way of saying “Please) to it, to get “Please treat me well, please,” which in English is getting translated altogether as “Nice to meet you.” Yikes.

よろしく is an awesome word, because it’s a word that just doesn’t really exist in English. For example, the night before trash day, sometimes my Rei (my fiancé) will put the garbage by the front door, and she’ll say ごみ、よろしくね.

A word-for-word translation of this would be “Trash / yoroshiku / ne.” If we want to get some really weird direct translations, we could even say that it means “Trash / please treat me kindly / you feel me?” Haha. But yeah, obviously that doesn’t make any sense.

The nuance of saying something like ごみ、よろしくね is just, “Please (do me a favor and) take out the trash.” At the same time, it has the nuance of expecting that the listener will do the thing being requested, so we could even translate it as, “Take out the trash (or else),” which I think we all know is the real message here.

If a new employee joins your company or your team at work, or if a new player joins your club softball team or something, then you can say よろしく, (or, if we’re being more polite, よろしくおねがいします) and the general nuance is just, let’s be nice to each other.

If all of this stuff that I’ve said about よろしく just sounds super confusing, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. It’s such an incredibly common word in Japanese, that you should have plenty of chances to get a feel for it over time. It even shows up in quite a few of our first dialog videos.

So, for your full, formulaic and boring self-intro, you can say something like this:

  • 初めまして ( = “Hi (for the first time).” )
  • [Your Name] です ( = “I’m [Your Name].” )
  • [Your Hometown] から来ました ( = “I’m from [Your Hometown].” )
  • [Job Title] です OR [Job Title] として働いています ( = “I’m a [job title].” / “I’m working as a [job title].”)
  • 趣味は [Noun]です ( = “My hobby is [noun].” )
  • よろしくおねがいします

If you want to change things up a bit, though, then check out the other self-intro videos by Diego and Miki.

That’s it for this video. Thanks!

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