124 - Politely Bugging Someone in Japanese
My Japanese hit a wall yesterday.
Sometimes I contract freelance voice actors to record words and sentences for various Japanese courses. About three weeks ago, I hired a female voice actor to make recordings for my upcoming (free) course on Japanese pronunciation and kana.
She told me that she'd send me her recordings on April 4th.
Then she missed that deadline and said she'd send them on April 14th.
Yesterday was April 20th, and I was still waiting to hear from her.
My challenge: How to message this voice actress, (1) ask her if everything is OK, (2) check if she can/will send the files soon, and (3) avoid saying something rude, pushy, or inappropriate.
I could definitely manage #1 and #2, but I was concerned about #3. Written, business language in Japanese is such a peculiar creature, and I didn't want to break some unspoken rule of formality and end up saying something majorly rude.
Rei wasn't at home, so I didn't have my go-to consult for writing business communications in Japanese. As such, I reached out to Yutaka, my editor and business partner (for my "real job" in Tokyo). Together, we came up with the following message:
That might be quite an intimidating mass of text, so let's break it down...
おせわになっております。 ニコ です。
Greetings. This is Niko.
Literally: "assistance + に + is becoming. + Niko + is."
Note: There is no good translation for お世話になっております. Technically, it means something like "I am humbly receiving your aid," and sometimes it will even be translated as, "It's a pleasure working with you." If you look at this article, he just uses, "Hey, how's it going?" as a translation for this usage of the phrase. Also, it has completely different translations based on tense of the verb and context of the phrase. It probably deserves it's own lesson. Also, only use this for formal business greetings.
レコーディング の けん です が、 その ご しんちょく は いかが でしょうか。
How is everything going with those recordings? // About those recordings, how is everything going since (the) last time (we talked)?
Literally: "recording + の + matter/case + is + but, + that + after + progress + は + how + でしょうか."
This is a beast of a sentence, yeah? Let's look at this first half:
レコーディング の けん です が、
About those recordings,
Although the literal translation of が is "but," here it's actually being used as more of a content marker. It shows that the next thing I'm going to say is about "the matter of the recordings." This is why a good, semi-literal translation would be "About those recordings."
Literally: "that + after."
This is kind of hard to explain without context. This "that" is referring to the last time I heard from her and she said that she'd send me stuff on April 14th. So "after that" is the same as "after the last time we talked."
しんちょく は いかが でしょうか。
How is everything progressing?
Literally: "progress + は + how + でしょうか."
I talked about 進捗（しんちょく // progress） in a newsletter way back in December, because there was a particularly embarrassing instance of me messing up the kanji and writing 進歩（しんぽ // progress; development） in a business email. I mean, come on! The kanji are almost the same and the meanings are almost the same!
進捗（しんちょく） is "progress" in the sense of a project that is "coming along" or "moving forward." It's used when talking about jobs.
進歩（しんぽ） is "progress" in a much larger sense of "advancement" or "development." It's generally not used for work projects. There are further explanations (in Japanese) on this page.
いかがでしょうか is just a more polite way of saying どうでしょうか. We talked all about using でしょう in this series of lessons:
[NDL #85] - This beat is fire, right? - Part I
[NDL #86] - This beat is fire, right? - Part II
[NDL #87] - This beat is fire, right? - Part III
[NDL #88] - This beat is fire, right? - Part III-b (detour)
[NDL #89] - This beat is fire, right? - Part IV
[NDL #90] - This beat is fire, right? - Part V
しがつ じゅうよっか に おおくり いただける とのこと でした ので、 そろそろ おんせい データ を おおくり いただける と たすかる の です が。
You mentioned that I would be able to receive the recordings on 04/14. If you could send them soon, it would really be a huge help to me.
Literally: "April 14th + に + sending + could receive + とのことでした (=was the thing/agreement) + because, + soon + voice recording + data + を + sending + could receive + if/and + be saved + の + is + が
This sentence is determined to massacre my translation abilities. It's so long! Let's break it up.
しがつ じゅうよっか に
On April 14th
I could receive.
Literally: "sending + could receive."
Note: This is uber-polite language. The humble form of もらう, "to receive," is いただく. But here we make it even more formal by putting it into potential form: いただける, "to be able to (humbly) receive."
と の こと でした ので、
was what you told me
Note: I can't really translate this directly. と is marking what came before this. In other words, it's marking the phrase "I could receive it on 04/14." Then we add のこと, which is like saying "that thing (=that sentence I just mentioned)." でした is "was," and ので is like saying "that being the case" or "because." Breaking down this type of language is really difficult/confusing, but it's not too hard to understand once you hear it a few (hundred) times.
おんせい データ を おおくり いただける
I am able to receive the voice recording data.
Literally: "voice recording + data + を + sending + be able to receive."
...would save me.
Literally: "if/and + be saved."
Note: This と is actually serving a grammatical function. But we can just think of it as "if" or "and."
I have no translation for this one, but here again we have （です）が acting as a "content marker." In other words, something should be coming after this sentence. Only, we don't say anything after this sentence, because the listener knows what would come after this sentence: "Please send me the data!" A lot of times in Japanese, when you're requesting something, you will say everything up until the actual request itself, then you just say ～のですが or ～んですけど, and you don't make the actual request. It's their passive way of asking for things, which would be uncomfortable to do directly.
げんじょう を おしらせ いただけます と さいわい です。
If you could let me know where things are at, it would really mean a lot to me.
Literally: "present condition + を + notification + can receive + if/and + happy/happiness + is."
I suppose this is one of the more straightforward sentences... though making a sentence like this is quite a challenge, yeah?
By the way, I am always mixing up these three words:
幸い（さいわい // happy; happiness）
辛い（からい // spicy; hot [also, sometimes, "salty"]）
辛い（つらい // painful; bitter; hard）
You may notice that the second and third words here have the exact same kanji/spelling. When reading a text, you just have to guess which reading/word is appropriate. Actually, when we were doing audio recordings for my Daily Lessons Pack 1-30, one of the voice actors misread からい as つらい. So native speakers can mix these up, too.
I don't hear 幸い（さいわい） all that often in daily conversations, but I do see it written a lot in business messages.
If we can take away any sort of formula from this sentence it would probably be:
[Something] を いただける と さいわい です。
If I could get [something] from you, it would mean a lot to me. // If you could get [something] for me, I would really appreciate it.
どうぞ よろしく おねがい いたします。
Thank you. // I look forward to hearing from you. // Thank you for your time.
Note: Yeah, there is no good translation for language like this. Just memorize it! Oh, also, note that いたします is the humble form of します, so this is more polite than saying お願いします.
Anyways, that was one language problem I was dealing with yesterday.