Honorifics and Politeness in Japanese

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Saowaree Nakagawa


The objective of the present study is to find the meanings and functions of Japanese honorifics and the expressions for expressing politeness in communication. The findings of the present study are as follows: 1) Teichoogo (courteous language) in Japanese honorifics is semantically different from Kenjoogo (humble language) in that it does not have affects toward the listeners. And it is different from Teineigo (polite language) because it implies the meaning of humbleness. 2) Japanese Honorifics hold two linguistic meanings and functions; they express respectful meaning and they differentiate ranks at work. 3) The explanation of the meanings and usages of honorifics in Japanese must be given in a discourse level. 4) Politeness can be expressed by the selections of words. Thus, the knowledge of honorifics and the linguistic performance in expressing politeness are the extremely crucial. 5) Japanese honorifics and the appropriate Japanese expressions for ‘politeness’ are significant elements in communication.


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