|Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA)|
Exercise 9: Simulation Exercise for Apologizing – 1
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Strategies for apologizing that we have seen in this exercise are:
¨ Providing an appropriate reason
¨ Being aware of how to appropriately present the reason (providing a detailed excuse only when asked in causing a serious infraction to someone of higher status)
¨ Communicating a lack of intention to cause the infraction
¨ Using an appropriate intensifier and pronouncing it emphatically
¨ Knowing and using an appropriate number of apology expressions
¨ Using an appropriate level of politeness in apology expressions and in the language in general
Note an additional strategy!
¨ Since you have learned that apology expressions are likely to be repeated in Japanese, you may wonder how you go about concluding your apology sequence. Here is a strategy Japanese speakers often use.
As you see in the sample dialogues in this exercise (and in Exercise 10 as well), speakers use the present tense of the apology expressions, and then shift to the past tense (e.g., sumimasen deshita, moushiwake arimasen deshita) to conclude the conversation. In this exercise, the student says, Konkaiwa taihen gomeiwaku okake shimashita.
However, the usage of shitsurei shimasu/shimashita is a bit different and complex. In a nutshell, the present tense, shitsurei shimasu is often used to signal an upcoming small offense/impoliteness. For example, you say it before/when entering a professor’s office (as this can be seen as an invasion to his/her space), or before answering a phone call if it disrupts an on-going conversation. In contrast, the past form, shitsurei shimashita can be used as an apology for some infraction committed in the past .
For more details, see Okamoto & Tamon (2000).