So, I was reading the novelization of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home — you know, the funny Star Trek movie with the whales — when I came upon a scene that was removed from the final draft of the screenplay, but was left in the novelization. I remembered reading this before, but it made a little more sense this time.
In late-20th-century San Francisco, Mr. Sulu is approached by a young Japanese boy, who asks if Sulu is his uncle. Actually, he says, “Ah! Hikaru oji san desu ka?” (Which, truth be told, don’t you just use oji for your own family, but ojisan for someone else’s? Not sure about the proper politeness factor on this one.) Then the boy asks casually what his uncle is doing here. I recognized the words tokoro, nani o, and desu ka, and the rest of the sentence made sense with the author’s prose around the Japanese.
At this point, Sulu replies with some vocab that I don’t know, but I can at least recognize the sentence structure. From the English context clues the author provides, he is responding (in antiquated Japanese that he learned from classes on literature) that the boy has mistaken him for someone else. The boy exclaims, “Honto desu ne,” which I think means something like, “Really!”
The boy starts to get all creeped out and back off, but Sulu asks the boy to wait with some other words I don’t know. Then he asks the boy’s name, which I totally understood, and the boy responds that he’s Akira Sulu. According to the author’s English paraphrase, Sulu of the Enterprise then tells Akira Sulu that he will live a long and happy life, to which the boy responds, “Ogisama arigato gozaimasu,” before scurrying off.
I know my Japanese skills are still severely limited at best, but it done my heart good to recognize some Japanese spoken by Hikaru Sulu’s great-great-great grandfather. ^_^