Essay On Honorifics

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Politeness and respect are the two of the most fundamental elements that occupy the core of the Japanese society, and this has been reflected into its language with the use of honorifics. Being able to use honorifics appropriately almost certainly determines your place in society and your future, due to the fact that Japanese society is heavily structured around hierarchy. As the use of honorifics indexes to one’s backgrounds, it can therefore, be argued that the concept of honorifics highlights the “nature of Japanese society and culture” (Shigeko Okamoto 797). This essay will therefore examine the relationship between indexicality of honorifics and how it is used to criteria to judge others, through looking at two different aspects of honorifics. Honorifics in Japan indexes the power relationship in a conversation and the social distance among the superior and the inferior (Shigeko Okamoto 797). In addition, it has a strong connotation with wakimae, which can mean discernment in English (Junko Saito 3172). The concept of wakimae derives from the notion that in certain situations, a person must use honorifics in order to maintain a social distance (Junko Saito 3172). For example, a new employee in a company must use the correct form of honorifics to his or her boss or anyone who is older or has power/influence than him/her. This is a…show more content…
In asymmetrical talk, one person in a conversation has more power than the other (Joan Swann 199). This means that you have to take into consideration that you have less authority in relation to the person who you are talking to, which resembles with the concept of wakimae in Japanese honorifics. This implies that failure to use honorifics appropriately at a given situation will be most likely judged as someone from a low social class

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