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そのままお待ちください。

This sentence, which is translated as

Please wait just a bit.

doesn't completely make sense, particularly そのまま。

Should I think of it as

(As it relates to the current state of 'waiting'), please continue to wait [(without change)]{そのまま}.

Or something completely different?

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When you are waiting and you are asked to [そのままお待ちください], you are, of course, asked to continue to wait. But this expression is usually used in our daily conversation in the meaning 'Please wait just a bit (here)'.

It seems to me that in most cases or contexts, そのまま (without change, as it is, as you are) in this expression does not have a special meaning. I have listed some other expressions like this.

  • そのままお待ちください。
  • このままお待ちください。
  • 少々お待ちください。
  • ちょっとお待ちください。
  • ここでお待ちください。
  • どうぞお待ちください。

It may be possible to find the differences between these expressions. But the following point of view will be more important not only for you but also for me. It is very interesting to me that when a waiter comes to us and says「お待ちください」without some words before it, it may sometimes sound a little abrupt or impolite or even casual, though「おまちください」itself is a very polite expression. So we are unconsciously compelled to put some substantially meaningless words before 「おまちください」. This might be true of 'just' before 'wait here, please.'

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  • To me, the problem with the bare お待ちください is that it's associated with "wait for their responding" or the interruptive "wait" as in "wait, listen to me" rather than "sit still there". – broken laptop Apr 14 at 5:48
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    laptop, I'm a little confused on if, or how, that contrasts with samhana's answer. Could you clarify? EDIT: samhana, your answer was very informative and interesting, thank you. Can anyone comment on the detailed etymological/linguistic differences between each phrase? (or at least some of them?) – johnrabbit Apr 15 at 13:45
  • I have always tried to answer or comment on the detailed differences of each phrase or sentence. In this case, too, I tried to discover the difference or nuance, but in vain. Then I reflected my speech acts more deeply and came to this conclusion. That is my answer to your question. – samhana Apr 15 at 23:34
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    I feel そのまま and このまま are often used in a phone conversation when one asks the person at the other end of the line to hold on. I think they have an implication of “don’t hang up” in this particular scenario and “don’t take any move from your end and just wait” in general. – aguijonazo Apr 26 at 5:58

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