How to Talk like a Samurai

I found this post over at Tofugu on how to talk like a samurai. I got a kick out of it and decided to try it out with our Japanese friend who was visiting.

Warning: Japanese people may think you are crazy

Today, talking like a samurai would be pretty similar to trying to talk like a character out of Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales. It’s going to make you sound really strange. However, it can also get a ton of laughs.

About I year ago I asked a Japanese friend about the correct way to refer to myself. Should I use ‘watashi’ or the informal ‘boku’ or what? At the same time I also asked how a samurai would refer to himself.

She told me that they would use the word sesshya せっしゃ to refer to themselves. I thought that sounded pretty cool so, I started trying it out. After a minute of laughing uncontrollably she told me to forget seeshya and pretend she never taught me the word. Apparently it sounded completely ridiculous.

But hey, when have I let sounding ridiculous stop me before?

Talking like a samurai

Photo by mazgrp on Flickr

Last month that same Japanese friend visited our place for a week. This time around I had something special in store for her.

Using Tofugu’s How to Talk Like a Samurai article I learned how say “good morning” and “how are you?” like a samurai.

Good morning: Ohayou -> Ohayoudegozaru おはようでござる

How are you?: genki desu ka? -> tasshya degozaruka? たっしゃでござるか

I practiced the phrases over and over in my head until I had them memorized. And with bated breath I waited till she came up for breakfast to try them out.

She thought I had lost my mind.

After the shock wore off she said that I sounded very ancient and used the word shibui しぶい to describe my speech. As it turns out shibui encompass anything that is really old in Japan. After that she pointed out all the shibui stuff I had around the house including artwork and Japanese items I had brought back from our last trip. Apparently I’m a big time shibui fan!

So while talking like a samurai will get you some strange looks, I think the laugh (and even the crazy looks) are well worth the effort.

Try it out and tell me what happens :)

4 Responses to “How to Talk like a Samurai”

  1. TofuUnion  on August 20th, 2011

    You may believe Samurai was the warrior, however most of Samurai never experienced real battle, especially in Edo period. They worked actually as public servant, policeman or self defence forces of today. High class Samurai were bureaucrats. Sorry to spoil your party.

  2. Travis  on August 20th, 2011

    Fine by me :)

  3. Real  on February 12th, 2014

    That’s why they lost to modern weapons starting with 19th century ^^

  4. Thieluar  on October 4th, 2014

    That’s the thing though, how did real samurai (before that coward Ieyasu turned them into paper-pushers) speak?

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