Deshou as Interjection: Making a Statement

Two schoolgirls talking about Sean Penn.

Schoolgirl #1: “Sean Penn is so cool!”

Schoolgirl #2: “He sure is!”

Two Japanese schoolgirls talking about Sean Penn.

Schoolgirl #1: “Sean Penn wa kakkou ii yo ne!”

Schoolgirl #2: “Deshou!”

What Just Happened

  • We just saw “deshou” (でしょう) used as an interjection.
  • Interjections include “Oh!” “Alas!” and “Oy vey!”

Where This Came From

  • “Sou desu” (そうです) conveys “That’s right.” with an air of finality.
  • “Sou desu yo” (そうですよ) conveys “That’s right!” with emphasis.
  • “Sou deshou” (そうでしょう) conveys “I’m sure that’s right.”

Therefore, “deshou” is an expression of agreement with another person. 

Deshou Is Subjective

English

Schoolgirl #1: “You really aced that test, didn’t you?”

Schoolgirl #2: “I did, didn’t I?”

Japanese

Schoolgirl #1: “Ano tesuto, daiseikou da yo ne?”

Schoolgirl #2: “Deshou?”

In this case, “deshou?” is used to answer a question with a statement/ question: I agree with that statement, don’t you

Translation Note

Because English favors the active voice, a translation would probably read like this instead:

Schoolgirl #1: “You really aced that test, huh?”

Schoolgirl #2: “Totally.”

Remember, the “deshou” expresses that Schoolgirl #2 has no doubt, in her own mind, that she did indeed ace that test. Her subjective opinion is strong. This is what should be remembered when converting “deshou” into English. – J

 

J Sensei

About J Sensei

Blogger, writer, linguist, former Japanese> English translator, rusty in French, experienced in Japanese, fluent English native. Writing for Technorati.com and various blogs. Skype: jeremiah.bourque (messages always welcome). E-mail: [email protected]
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One Response to Deshou as Interjection: Making a Statement

  1. J Sensei J Sensei says:

    I forgot to add this in the initial post but… the “desu” in “sou desu” is a copula, which functions much like the “is” in “that is correct” or “it is so”. When used like “sou deshou”, the “deshou” is also a copula. The thrust of this blog post is to show another use of the word. It’s colloquial of course, but it’s so common that it’s important to know. The usual textbooks probably don’t account for it.

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