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Published on 02.08.2016
Suimasen actually alternated from the word sumimasen as a result of dropping the consonant ‘m’ in sumimasen. Suimasen is the most powerful word in Japanese language because it can mean “sorry”, “excuse me” and even “thank you” depend on various kinds of situations. For the meaning in terms of “thank you”, it does not mean only thank you perhaps a kind of feeling about sorry for bothering but thank you for your consideration. Hence, suimasen can be used to thank and apologize to someone who took the troubles for your benefits.
Suimasen can be used for casual apology when you bumped into a stranger. By adding deshita behind, suimasen can be used for formal apologize to superior authorities. It will be more useful and impressive if we bowing in 90 degree. Furthermore, suimasen can be used to getting others’ attentions. For example, notify the staffs or waiters about your arrivals or request for assistances. Apart from that, suimasen can also be used as starting to ask strangers a question, in context it means excuse me. Suimasen can be used for affirmative responses too. It is a polite way to responds instead of “OK” or “yes”.
Japanese society is highly concerned with indebtedness towards others and also individual’s social role in public. The priority put on public appearance and debt in Japanese society is perhaps the main reason why suimasen is powerful words in Japanese. It allows Japanese speakers to put themselves in humble position and show their debt in many circumstances.
Source: Learn Tokyo/Tokyo Girls' Update
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