Translation:Um, excuse me.
Yes, あの here is basically just a filler word, or an interrupter. Ah and um are both acceptable
あの is one of many useful filler words you should use in conversation when you slow down to try to remember what word to use. It'll make your speech sound more natural and fluent, even if you aren't.
Generally yes, but in this case すみません by itself is an expression, not a conjugation or negation of something.
Later some verbs will sound like it (like 住みません (すみません) = to not reside), but the context (VERY important in japanese) will tell you what it means.
I agree with you that it's best to think of すみません as an expression, but I belieive the expression did come from a negative conjugation.
In the same vein as はじめまして originated from a longer phrase, I think すみません came from something along the lines of 「ご迷惑をかけて気が済みません」 meaning "I've inconvenienced you, and I don't feel at ease about it".
Ah, like the German "es tut mir Leid" (literally, "it causes me pain")?
Perhaps? My German isn't very ... existent >_>
But 気が済まない【きがすまない】is an expression describing more of an antsy or agitated feeling, rather than physical pain.
Well, there is scientific research suggesting that such pain is experienced in the brain exactly the same way as physical pain :) but I think "it pains me to think [that I hurt you]" is a good way to apologise :)
You are correct. すみません indeed comes from the verb 済む (すむ), which means "to settle," "to manage with," "to be okay with," with the expression meant to imply that one is not okay with the actions that they are committing or have committed. You also see this verb used in なくて済む, ~ずに済む, to mean "to be okay with not doing," or more broadly, "to get by without" or "not have to."
This might be a dumb question, but how/why is there a specific word for "um"? Isn't that a sound you make when you can't think of what to say?
Yes, it's quite common actually. But it's kind of an accepted bastardization of the expression, and as such, すみません is more formal/correct.
Not quite. They both have different functions equal to "um", "ah", "uh," etc. in English. "Etto" is most commonly used for when you are thinking of something and not sure what to say, like if you're stumbling on a sentence or don't know the answer to a question. It can also be a reaction sort of like "huh..?" in some situations. "Ano", on the other hand, is like a more polite "um." You use it if you want to hedge what you're saying - like if you're trying to correct someone in a polite way (eg. "Um, I thought it was...), or know what you're going to say but want to sound a little unsure for politeness and so on. The example here is "Um, excuse me," and I imagine this is meant to be read like you're asking for directions from a stranger or something like that, because it sounds very polite. Long explanation but I hope it made sense! Sorry for no kana, I don't have a Japanese keyboard on my phone.
What does "sumimasen" have in common with "arimasen"? I mean, both of them are polite words, but why exactly? Can someone break it down for me?
They're unrelated; one means "excuse me" and the other means "there isn't". -masen is the polite negative conjugation of a verb, usually, so it's used in "there isn't". As for it being used in "sumimasen", it doesn't really show negation.
Actually, grammatically, sumimasen is the polite-negative form of sumu (to settle, to be clear). This word, over time, has evolved into a fixed one-word catch-all expression of 'Excuse me', or 'Apologies'.
As far as why it is polite, it is because they follow the -masen form. More simple forms end in -nai. Sumanai becomes sumimasen. Aru becomes arimasen.
I heard sumimasen means (it is) unexcusable! Apparently a polite way of asking for excuse.
Why in comments it's "Um" rather than "Ah" it simply makes things more confusing to learner when previously you are not introduced to the word "Ah" being used anywhere
Are "um" and "ah" really that different, different enough to be confusing?
Hate to break it to you, but "um" and "ah" are practically identical. Same with "erm" and "uh". If you're a native English speaker, which this course is aimed at, this should be a non-issue.
"Um" and "ah" are different to me. Not confusing, but different. "Um" has more of a lightly uncertain/questioning tone to it. Um, excuse me? Um, I guess you could say that. Um, yeah, okay, I'll meet you at 6 instead of 7.
"Ah" is more positive, more affirmative. Ah, I see your point, yes. Ah, sure, let's do that next week. Ah, super idea.
ENGLISH people say err. Scottish people say EH... ええ if you prefer it in Japanese.
English people say "er", no rolling of the "r" (that's Dutch- or Scotsmen) ;o)
"hey" generally isn't a filler word. Also "hey, excuse me" is rather rude in English.
Ano can be used to call someone's attention apart from meaning "um", but I agree, "hey" isn't a good translation of that. I'd almost translate "ano" as "excuse me", but that'd make the sentence redundant. I guess it's all about
C O N T E X T
Unless it's "hey, excuse me, you seem to have dropped this [very expensive thing]". It would then be rude not to.
I don't believe any English-speaking person actually uses ah as a filler word, or to get someone's attention. Sounds retarded.
I kinda get the downvotes, but his statement is mostly true. I've never heard "ah, excuse me". It's usually err or erm, excuse me, or just a quick Hi. In England at least, dunno about other English speaking cultures?
Actually in some Asian countries, it's more like "uh" rather than "um". And the "uh" does sound like "ah", but not the type of "aaah" like eureka. Am I making sense?