AN: Hi there anybody reading this. I wrote this story for pure fun and enjoyment. I hope it makes you smile too.
I don’t use much Japanese in my fanfics, but there are a few things that just don’t translate well, (including honorifics) so if you aren’t familiar with them, here is the brief key:
Mada mada dane – this is Ryoma’s catch phrase, though lots of other POT characters use it. The meaning is basically “not yet” "not good enough" or “you still have a ways to go." I think by those three phrases you can get the gist of the meaning of the idea behind the words.
Baka – idiot, dummy, et cetera.
Ano – a commonly used word whisper. The closest translation would be “um.”
Mou - a word expressing frustration. Not in a minor cussing way like "damn" but more like saying "bother" or "sheesh."
Ochibi - Eiji's nickname for Ryoma. It translates with the connotation of "our baby" or "our little one." It's an affectionate nickname, not an insult.
Honorifics are an important part of the Japanese language and are used to indicate relationship or status. When addressing someone in Japanese, and honorific usually takes the form of a suffix attached to one’s name (example: “Echizen-san,” would mean “Mr. Echizen”), or as a title at the end of one’s name or in the place of the name itself (example: “Fuji-sempai,” would mean “Upperclassman Fuji,” or simply “Sempai!” meaning “Upperclassman!”). Honorifics can be expressions of respect or endearment. In an anime and/or manga they give insight into the nature of the relationship between characters.
-san: This is the most common honorific, and is equivalent to Mr., Miss, Ms., Mrs., etc. It is the all-purpose honorific that most will start out with when first meeting someone and until they feel comfortable using another term.
-kun: This suffix is used at the end of boys’ names to express familiarity or endearment. It is also sometimes used by men among friends, or when addressing someone younger or of a lower station.
-chan: This is used to express endearment, mostly toward girls. It is also used for little boys, pets, and even among lovers. It gives a sense of childish cuteness.
Sempai: This title suggests that the addressee is one’s senior in a group or organization. It is most often used in a school setting, where underclassmen refer to their upperclassmen as “sempai.” It can also be used in the workplace, such as when a newer employee addresses and employee who has seniority in the company.
No honorific: The lack of honorific means that the speaker has permission to address the person in a very intimate way. Usually, only family, spouses, or very close friends have this kind of permission. Known as yobisute, it can be gratifying when someone who has earned the intimacy starts to call one by one’s name without an honorific. But when that intimacy hasn’t been earned, it can also be very insulting.
Thanks to Del Rey manga publications for the honorifics explanations. This is not exact word for word, but I used their translation as a starting point for my explanations. To learn more about other honorifics and how they are used, I would Google “Japanese honorifics.”
Also to be noted in address is that generally speaking a family name or “last name” is used with a suffix before a person’s given name, which would denote further familiarity. So by word there is more familiarity from say Ryuzaki-san to Sakuno-san.
Disclaimer: The Prince of Tennis / Tenisu no Ōjisama is copyright Takeshi Konomi/Shueisha.