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よろしくお願いします。 I am writing a scene (in English, with occasional Japanese for flavor and difficult-to-translate terms) where a rather androgynous woman is in a Tokyo department store, speaking with a store clerk. She is dressed in a fairly masculine fashion, and binding her breasts; her voice is more feminine than masculine, but not unambiguously so.

This character will be speaking with the appropriate level of formality, customer to store employee, and wishes to make it clear, in these circumstances, that she is a woman. I am wondering if she can choose a pronoun toward that end.

Looking at Wikipedia’s list, I don’t see a formal first-person pronoun used only by women. わたし is only feminine in informal speech; あたし is always informal. Is there no good way for her to convey her gender with the pronoun? If there’s no really good choice, is there a least-bad choice?

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We do not have an exact pronoun that you are looking for.

「わたくし」 is the most formal, but it is completely gender-free.

たくし」 is mostly feminine, if not completely, and it is a tiny bit less formal than 「わたくし」 for using the 「あ」. Perhaps it is a good candidate, all things considered. At least, I could not think of a better pronoun for your purpose.

In Japanese fiction, 「たくし」 (more often written 「タクシ」) is often used as part of "role language" for a sophisticated dame. Fake or real sophistication, it does not matter.

(I said "mostly feminine" above because despite the wide-spread rumor among Japanese-learners, quite a few older gentlemen [especially around Tokyo] do use 「たし」 and 「たくし」. They used to use 「っし」 as well.)

  • Hmm, I should have mentioned that the character is 19 years old. No one will mistake her for an older gentleman. She’s not especially sophisticated, but she is very well read, so she would know about あたく し. Sounds like this would be the best choice. どうも。 – Tualha Jun 23 '18 at 4:58

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