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Kentaro Kuribayashi's blog

Software Engineering, Management, Books, and Daily Journal.

Feb. 4, 2016

It makes me feel uneasy when people don't use honorific language correctly. It's true, I think, when they say many Japanese can't use correct honorific language.

The people seem to be unconscious in their wrong expression. Honorific language in Japanese is based on a vertical distance between one and another one. (1) One raises up another one's position. (2) One abases themselves under another one. I observe people often perceive such a usage of language is done flatly, not indicating distance.

Also English has such a feeling of distance to express respect for others. For instance, when we want to ask someone who is unfamiliar to us to do, we say "Could you please..."; we express unobtrusiveness to others by using subjunctive mood that indicates the distance with temporal difference. It's an English manner to express respect for others.