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I'm trying to come up with a polite introduction.

Hajimemashite.
Watashi wa Megan to moushimasu.
Tekisasu kara mairimashita.
watashi wa kentakkii-shuu ni sunde orimasu.
Sumimasen, watashi wa nihongo wo sukoshi dake zonjite orimasu.
Douzo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu.

Nice to meet you.
My name is Megan.
I am from Texas.
I live in Kentucky.
Sorry, I only know a little Japanese.
Please take care of me.

For the "I only know a little Japanese," would it be better to use zonjite orimasu or would it make more sense to use something like hanashimasu (speak)? I didn't know if hanashimasu is polite enough. And is douzo yoroshiku onegai itashimasu too polite? I'm going to an interview, if that helps!

  • As in, a job interview, or some other kind of interview? – Darius Jahandarie Feb 3 '15 at 19:07
  • job interview!! – Meg Feb 3 '15 at 20:09
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    If you really wanted to create a "kenjou" atmosphere, you might need to start by deleting all those "watashi's" first. In Japanese, you would not sound very humble if you kept saying "Me, me, me!" Just an opinion, though, from a Japanese speaker who has interviewed non-Japanese job applicants in real life. – l'électeur Feb 4 '15 at 0:44
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    My advice is to stay away from both keigo and kenjougo until you've mastered teineigo. Your Japanese example is so directly translated that it only sounds conceited. I know that is not your intention, but that is the result. – Tsurugaya Taro Feb 4 '15 at 1:02
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Sumimasen, watashi wa nihongo wo sukoshi dake zonjite orimasu.

The problem of this sentence is that it's unclear you want to say this positively or negatively. People will expect something negative after Sumimasen, just like English "I'm afraid..."

If you want to say this positively, like "(Yes,) I speak Japanese a little." Don't add Sumimasen:

  • 私は日本語を少しだけ話せます/使えます。
    Watasi wa Nihongo wo sukosi dake hanasemasu/tsukaemasu.

  • 日本語は少しだけ話せます/できます/わかります。
    Nihongo wa sukosi dake hanasemasu/dekimasu/wakarimasu.

  • 少しは日本語が話せます/できます/わかります。
    Sukosi wa Nihongo ga hanasemasu/dekimasu/wakarimasu.

I feel the kenjôgo 存じております is a bit overkill here, even in a job interview. It should be spared until you want to talk about something more sensitive, such as someone's personal affair.

If you want to say this negatively, like "I'm afraid I speak little Japanese":

  • すみません、日本語はあまり得意ではありません。
    Sumimasen, Nihongo wa amari tokui de wa arimasen. (I'm not very good at Japanese.)
  • すみません、日本語はまだ勉強中です。
    Sumimasen, Nihongo wa mada benkyô chû desu. (I'm still learning Japanese.)

Note that although these are semantically negative, they don't sound actually negative to the interviewer's ears. If your Japanese is satisfactory, they serve as humble expressions even without humble terms.

The rest of your self-introduction looks nearly perfect. Good luck!

  • I was curious, does it actually make sense to say すみません in the middle of a 自己紹介 at all? It makes me feel like the person saying it is reading off a script where the dialogue of the person they're talking to is omitted... – Darius Jahandarie Feb 4 '15 at 1:19
  • @DariusJahandarie Oh, I feel すみません can appear naturally within a conversation. But when it's in a prepared manuscript, it should be replaced with 残念ながら or 申しわけありませんが. – naruto Feb 4 '15 at 1:26

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