Sunday, March 11, 2012

How to Wish Someone a "Happy birthday" in Japanese, Korean, & Chinese

I just thought I'd post this in case there are people like me who like wishing celebrities of the Asian race a happy birthday on their special day. First, Japanese (one of the most beautiful languages in the world):

お誕生日おめでとうございます、 ! >> Otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu, ! >> Happy birthday, !

The Japanese system of writing consists of grammatical punctuation similar to Western punctuation, only written slightly differently. The comma, for instance, is written "、" unlike the Western ",". The space, called the ideographic space, is written similar to 6 spaces in the Western font (i.e. "      "). It's occasionally used to separate different words in katakana/kanji to make sentences & phrases easier to read for people unaccustomed to reading the language on a daily basis. The cases where an ideographic space is not used is in such was as separating listed items in place of a comma & as a substitute for a double hyphen ("⸗")instead, the interpunct, or "・" is used. As with the Western style of wishing someone a happy birthday by writing it either on a card or online, the person's name is written just before the exclamation point. The exclamation point is written similar to the Western exclamation point, "!", only ... slightly differently: "!"

There are actually 2 different ways to wish someone a happy birthday: formally (as with celebrities, teachers, etc) & informally (as with parents, siblings, etc). "Otanjoubi omedetou gozaimasu" is the formal way of saying "Happy birthday" to someone, specifically someone you do not know on a personal basis (as with friends & family; instead to be used with teachers, celebrities, or an elder of any kind). Next is the informal way of wishing someone a happy birthday:

誕生日おめでとう、 ! >> Tanjoubi omedetou, ! >> Happy birthday, !

It is, of course, the more informal or casual way to wish someone a happy birthday. For example, today is my older sister's 26th birthday; on her Facebook wall I put:
"誕生日おめでとう、 コートニー! >> Tanjoubi omedetou, Kōtonī! >> Happy birthday, Courtney!"
I used the informal way of saying "Happy birthday" because she is my sister; although she is my older sister, it is still considered proper to use the informal manner of speaking as I've known her my whole life & she is family.

Now, the Korean way of wishing someone "Happy birthday:"

There is only one way of wishing someone a happy birthday in Korean, whether they're your friends/family or your elders. They also use Western punctuation, so I don't need to go into detail about that:

생일축하합니다, ! >> Saengil chukha hamnida, ! >> Happy birthday, !

Whether you're male/female, older/younger - it doesn't matter; you still say it the same way (which is why it's one of my favorite ways to say "happy birthday").

Last but not least, the Chinese method of saying "Happy birthday;" like the Korean way, it's said the same way whether you're older/younger, male/female:

生日快樂, ! >> Shēngrì kuàilè, ! >> Happy birthday, !

Say I wanted to wish the Chinese actress Bai Ling a happy birthday; I would say, "生日快樂, 白靈! >> Shēngrì kuàilè, Bai Ling! >> Happy birthday, Ling Bai! Her surname would come first in both the traditional way of writing & romaji translation as is the custom in Asia; the surname is always written & spoken first. In the English translation, as is the custom, her first name would be written/spoken first (Bai is the family name; her given name is Ling).

If anyone needs any other ways of wishing someone a happy birthday, don't hesitate to ask!