03 - Emotional Thai Lady's Japanese

So we're at that Thai restaurant.

Which, by the way, is quite possibly the fanciest restaurant I've ever been to:

OK, maybe that was an exaggeration.

We asked for a beer, saying:

biiru futatsu kudasai.
Two beers, please.
(Literally, "beer, two, please.")

And one of those Thai ladies pointed at the fridge near our table and said:

katte toru
Literally: "selfish, take"

Now, this Japanese is incorrect.

But looking at why it's incorrect will be really informative.

The lady was using the word 勝手 (katte), which has a number of meanings.

The meaning and usage this lady was intending to use (and the meaning you're most likely to encounter) is 勝手に (katte ni), which means "as one wishes; freely."

Let's say that she had said this in a grammatically correct format:

katte ni totte kudasai
Please take them freely.

This is still kind of strange, because 勝手に (katte ni) is rarely used when suggesting. Rather, it's more common to see it in sentences reacting to someone acting selfishly, like this:

お互いっていうか 僕の右手はお前が勝手に食べちゃったんだろ
otagai tte iu ka boku no migite wa omae ga katte ni tabechatta n daro
Both of us?! You're the one who ate my right hand without even asking first!

This is from the anime Parasyte, by the way.

I'm not 100% sure of how to use 勝手に (katte ni) in a way that means "freely" in a good way or in a suggestion. The only examples of this in my dictionary are stiff and formal:

5 時以後は勝手にしてよろしい.
go ji igo wa katte ni shite yoroshii.
You can do whatever you like after five o'clock.

My advice is to just ignore this usage of 勝手に (katte ni) and focus on the more common usage of pointing out selfish, self-serving behavior, like the anime example above.

I recommend that because I ignore all grammar and vocab that I can't understand the usage of in less than a few minutes.

Some might call this lazy. I've relabeled it as time-efficient.

Notice that the construction is 勝手に + VERB.

Anyways, I mentioned to Rei that it was strange for the lady to be saying 勝手に (katte ni), and I guessed that maybe she could have said:

jibun de totte kudasai
Please grab them yourselves.
(Literally: "by yourself, take, please.")

Alas, no.

Rei told me that this would sound rude. So apparently I suck at Japanese, too. ^_^

In the end, we decided that this would probably be a natural way to phrase this:

nomimono wa serufu saabisu ni natte orimasu.
Drinks are self-serve.
(Literally: "drinks, wa, self-service, ni, are becoming.")

Of course the "correct" way to say this would be with katakana English, セルフサービス (serufu saabisu), "self-service."


By the way, the おります (orimasu) in ~になっております (ni natte orimasu) is the humble form of います (imasu). You probably won't need to use any humble forms until you get really, really good at Japanese (and have a job that uses Japanese or something), but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Long story short, I got my own beer. And I opened it myself:

↑ Me, brimming with joy. ↑

Bonus Phrases:

かって な こと いわないで よ。
Don't be so selfish / inconsiderate.
Literally: selfish + thing(s) + don't say + よ
Note: Rei's explanation was... if I said, "I want stew tonight," then she went to the store and bought ingredients for stew, but later in the day I said, "Actually, I think I want curry, instead," then she might say this sentence.

ちち は そと で まって おります。
My father is waiting outside.
Literally: father + は + outside + で + is waiting (humble)
Note: You could also say 待っています.

いつも おせわ に なって おります。
Thank you for always helping me out.
Literally: always + taking care + に + am (humbly) becoming
Note: You should just memorize this set phrase as is.

いま やって います。
I'm doing it now.
Literally: now + am doing