On the categorization of the Japanese honorific system Keigo

Open access

Abstract

The way the structure of the Japanese honorific system keigo is grasped and presented influences the understanding and appropriate use of the honorific forms this system includes. Functional categorization makes it easier to perceive principles that are not immediately evident.

This paper argues for the superiority of the new 5-category division into sonkeigo (‘deferential speech’), kenjōgo (‘humble speech’), teichōgo (‘formal polite speech’), teineigo (‘polite speech’) and bikago (‘refined speech’), recently promulgated by the Ministry of Education, over the traditional and wide-spread 3-category division into sonkeigo, kenjōgo and teineigo. It proposes that the new system offers significant functional advantages in that it better captures the ways social relations are expressed within the Japanese honorific system and that it sets out more clear-cut categories which better reflect the differences between the forms available to the speaker. Through description and comparison of the more notable frameworks proposed by Japanese linguists over the past fifty years, the paper seeks to demonstrate that the 5-category system is not just another more extensive model but also represents a logical outcome of developments in this field of scholarship.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Bunkachō. 2007. Keigo no shishin. Bunka shingikai tōshin [online]. Tōkyō Bunkachō 2007 [Accessed 16 July 2014]. Available at: http://www.bunka.go.jp/kokugo_nihongo/bunkasingi/pdf/keigo_tousin.pdf

  • Bunkachō. Heisei 20 nendo ‘Kokugo ni kan suru yoron chōsa’ no kekka ni tsuite [online]. Tōkyō Bunkachō 2008 [Accessed 24 May 2014]. Available at: http://www.bunka.go.jp/kokugo_nihongo/yoronchousa/h18/kekka.html

  • CHAMBERLAIN B. H. 1898. A Handbook of Colloquial Japanese. London: Sampson Low Marston (3rd ed.) [online]. [Accessed 16 July 2014]. Available at: https://archive.org/details/handbookofcolloq00chamuoft

  • KABAYA H. KAWAGUCHI Y. and SAKAMOTO M 1998. Keigo hyógen. Tōkyō: Taishūkan.

  • KIKUCHI Y. 2010. Keigo sainyūmon. Tōkyō: Kōdansha.

  • LEWIN B. 1967. The understanding of Japanese honorifics: A historical approach. In: J. K. Yamagiwa ed. Papers of the CIC Far Eastern Language Institute. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press pp. 107–125.

  • MIYAJI Y. 1965. Keigo no kaishaku. Kotoba no kenkyū: Kokuritsu kokugo kenkyūjo ronshū II. Tōkyō: Shūei shuppansha pp. 187–204.

  • MIYAJI Y. 1971. Gendaigo no bunpō to hyōgen no kenkyū. Tōkyō: Meiji shoin.

  • MIYAJI Y. 1983. Keigo o dō toraeru ka. Nihongogaku vol. 2 no. 1 pp. 4–12.

  • MIYAJI Y. 1999. Keigo kanyōku hyōgenron – Gendaigo no bunpō to hyōgen no kenkyū II. Tōkyō: Meiji shoin.

  • NISHIDA N. 1987. Keigo. Tōkyō: Tōkyōdō shuppan.

  • ŌISHI H. 1975. Keigo. Tōkyō: Chikuma shobō.

  • ŌISHI H. 1976. Taigūgo no taikei. In: Saeki Umetomo hakushi kiju kinen Kokugogaku ronshū kankōkai ed. Kokugogaku ronshū: Saeki Umetomo hakushi kiju kinen. Tōkyō: Hyōgensha pp. 881-903.

  • ŌISHI H. 1977. Keigo no kenkyūshi. In: S. Ōno and T. Shibata eds. Iwanami kōza Nihongo 4: Keigo. Tōkyō: Iwanami shoten pp. 205–246.

  • ŌISHI H. 1983. Gendai keigo kenkyū. Tōkyō: Chikuma shobō.

  • PIZZICONI B. 20011. Honorifics: The cultural specificity of a universal mechanism in Japanese. In: D. Z. Kádár and S. Mills eds. Politeness in East Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press pp. 45–70.

  • PIZZICONI B. 2004. Japanese politeness in the work of Fujio Minami. SOAS Working Papers in Linguistics vol. 13 pp. 269–280.

  • TAKIURA M. 2005. Nihon no keigoron – poraitonesu riron kara no saikentō. Tōkyō: Taishūkan shoten.

  • TOKIEDA M. 1941. Kokugogaku genron. Tōkyō: Iwanami shoten.

  • TOKIEDA M. [1954] 2005. Nihongo bunpō: Bungo hen. Tōkyō: Iwanami shoten.

  • TSUJIMURA T. 1963. Keigo no bunrui ni tsuite. Gengo to bungei no. 27. pp. 8–13.

  • TSUJIMURA T. 1967. Gendai no keigo. Tōkyō: Kyōbunsha.

  • TSUJIMURA T. 1992. Keigo Ronkō. Tōkyō: Meiji shoten.

  • WATANABE M. 1971. Kokugo kōbunron. Tōkyō: Hanawa shobō.

  • WETZEL P. J. 2004. Keigo in Modern Japan: Polite Language from Meiji to the Present. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Search
Journal information
Impact Factor

CiteScore 2018: 0.25

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.144
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.447

Metrics
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 817 590 16
PDF Downloads 372 266 10