In a message group someone says something critical of some other people in the same group, then goes on:


I have seen ごとき used as explained in dictionaries, but I am not sure what it means here.



This ごとき is used when the speaker wants to humble himself or look down on someone. For example, お前ごときが、アメリカの大統領に対してなんてことを言うんだ!(How dare someone like you have said such things to the U.S. president!).

  • Thank you! Could you talk a little bit more about how this usage differs from なんか, なんて, and ってば? I know なんか can follow お前 too. ってば doesn't seem to have this meaning. But how do they differ when used to refer to oneself as humble language? And how do なんか, なんて, and ごとき differ when used to disparage the other party? – Eddie Kal Mar 18 at 3:10
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    なんか and なんて are more soft words than ごとき, though they are used as the same way. ってば isn't used like them. I think that it makes 私(pronoun) more casual. – Yuuichi Tam Mar 18 at 3:42

 First of all, the expression of 私ごとき is quite different from those in dictionaries you have consulted.  私ごとき can be said to be almost equal in meaning with 私ってば. But 私ごとき is used almost by male seniors, and never used by young people, so the sentence (1) sounds a little strange because of the collocation of 私ごとき and a little casual phrase of ごめんなさい。It will be more natural to say in (3). (1) たとえそうだとしても、それを言う必要はないと感じてしまいました……私如きが、ごめんなさい。(2) たとえそうだとしても、それを言う必要はないと感じてしまいました……ごめんなさい、私ってば。(3) たとえそうだとしても、それを言う必要はないと感じてしまいました……私なんかが、ごめんなさい。On the contrary, 私ってば found in sentence (2) is mostly used by female young people or never used by males.

  • Hi, thank you for the answer! The usage of this word and its register make more sense now. +1. The only thing is this line was actually from a young female native speaker. I know ってば is almost always used by females, and that's why I thought maybe she could've said 私ってば. Hmm, interesting, I didn't know ごとき is used by male seniors. So I guess it must be her idiolect. – Eddie Kal Mar 18 at 15:28
  • I guess it cannot be her idiolect. If this line was actually from a young female, I imagine 私ってば was used in a very special situation. For example, she must be very proud of her career or experience of her field and have to use the expression in a special meeting with seniors or older people. – samhana Mar 18 at 22:55
  • Sorry, I am a little confused. Do you mean 私ってば is more likely to be used in special situations? But she didn't say 私ってば; she said 私ごとき. More context of this utterance: this was a young female student who sent a message to a group of people. Most of the people in the group were students of similar ages. There were some older people in the group but her chief audience was other students. She sent a long message criticizing some behavior she'd observed in other students. And then she said the line that I quoted in my question「私如きがごめんなさい」 Would you talk a bit more about the nuances of 私如き here? – Eddie Kal Mar 18 at 23:09
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    I am so sorry to make a wrong comment. I had to use 私ごとき instead of 私ってば. (I am a beginner in Stackexchange, I was hesitant to write my comment here and deleted the former one, and set up a new wrong one.) More context is very helpful to me. In that case, 私ごとき was used in written message, but not in spoken Japanese. And in criticizing some behavior, she must feel it necessary for her to be very serious using this expression. – samhana Mar 19 at 0:10
  • Thank you so much! Now it's clear to me! Sorry, I should have included more details when I posted the question. Welcome to StackExchange! I am glad you have joined the Japanese SE community, and thanks again for the answer. Btw, I took a look at your profile. It seems you asked a question on ELU? Meaning questions like yours can be asked on ELU, of course, but another site English Language Learners (ELL) is more learner-friendly. Some questions from non-native English speakers are poorly received on ELU. And you are always welcome to check out ELL. 一応モデレーターですし – Eddie Kal Mar 19 at 0:43

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