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I don't understand the usage of こちらこそ in the following exchange:

A: はじめまして、たなか ゆうこです。よろしく おねがいします。
B: たなかさん、こちらこそ よろしく おねがいします。

In the translation, I was told that it meant "it is I, not you". Could someone explain this to me?

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It's being used here as B being humble and saying that the pleasure of this meeting is all theirs.

You know how sometimes, especially in cliched movies, there will be an exchange like this?

X: Thank you for all you have done for us.
Y: No, sir. It is I who should thank you.

The feeling is kind of the same here. Upon their first meeting, their exchange goes something like this:

A: How do you do? I'm Yuuko Tanaka. Pleased to meet you.
B: Mr. Tanaka, the pleasure is all mine.

Or, if we interpret it (perhaps overly) literally:

A: How do you do? I'm Yuuko Tanaka. I humbly request that our relations go favorably.
B: Mr. Tanaka; no, no, it is I who makes this humble request.

† Thanks to @sova for this suggestion.

  • No one is saying "Pleased to meet you." in the original. We do not even have a custom of saying it in the first place. – l'électeur Mar 29 '15 at 6:03
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    @l'électeur: "Pleased to meet you" is a common English set phrase. It is far and away the most popular choice for translating this set phrase from Japanese. – jkerian Mar 29 '15 at 12:36
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    @l'électeur As a high-rep member of this site very recently said, "Translation is an art." While "Pleased to meet you" is clearly not a literal translation, it keeps the meaning desired when a meeting like this takes place. As jkerian pointed out, it's a set phrase, not a literal comment. – Eric Mar 29 '15 at 23:59
  • Eric I like your answer a lot. I would simply like to add that こちらこそ is for emphasis of "this side of the transaction" or "this particular link in the chain"... こちら is a politer form of ここ and これ. こそ is a suffix that sort-of means "this specific reason" or "this very thing" -- mostly emphatic so it really varies by context, but in terms of social "transactions" such as はじめまして...よろしく it implies, like Eric very well said, "the pleasure is all mine" よろしく おねがいします can roughly be rendered as " i humbly request that our relations be convivial and swell" ... "no no, it is I who requests humbly.." – sova Mar 30 '15 at 10:16
  • @sova Thanks for that interpretation. I've altered the "literal"-ish portion of the answer to use your idea. – Eric Mar 30 '15 at 17:09
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こちらこそ literally means "Consequentely the same here". (It's the same for me, I return the thank.) Actually, "こちら" is a... direction. It means like "on my side". And can even mean "over there" in a different context.

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