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atitarev

Traces of Japanese keigo (敬語) in Chinese

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atitarev

I wonder if anyone had the impression that Chinese honorific forms have some similarity with Japanese but it's used much less and not so often.

There may not be much relationship at all but these type of phrases are easier to find in translations from Japanese.

Could anyone suggest more honorific sentences apart from 您姓? 名前は?

Is 敝姓... still in use for self-introduction?

Is it true that Chinese lost a lot of ceremonial phrases during the previous century?

We have 您, 贵 remainders in the modern language but these are the only ones I know, are there more?

What do you think of this article?

Chinese honorifics

Here's the article about Japanese honorifics, which is much more advanced but shows the current practice in Japanese, which is absent in daily Mandarin but sometimes shows up in certain situations.

I will post more examples later, as I can't think of good ones right now. I am sure Chinese is also full of stock phrases and honorifics, which are just not so often as they are in Japanese.

I have an impression that Japanese honorifics originated in Chinese but became out of use but stayed in Japan.

Edited by atitarev

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gato

I think these below from the Chinese honorfics page are still more or less commonly used in mainland China (at least people will know what you are talking about):

貴~·贵~ (guì) - the honorable (still in use)

敝~ (bì): prefix. my, our; for example: 敝校,敝人

~兄 (xiōng): for a friend

~先生 (xiānshēng): for someone in a profession

Madam: 女士 (nǚshì)

Mrs: 夫人 (fūrén)

There are a few other commonly used ones that seem to be left out on the wikipedia page, such as:

~阁下: Your Excellency 市长阁下 Her Honor the Mayor.

~老: for some honored elder; example: 王老

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atitarev

Thanks, Gato. This is interesting. Are there any difference in verbs (humble and honorific), like talking about yourself or your in-group vs the other party?

Chinese 本 (e.g. 本公司) seems to match Japanese 当 (tō-) (e.g. 当社) in the meaning talking about yourself, your company, etc., these seem to be the opposites of (贵- Chinese, お-/ご- o-/go- - Japanese).

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gato

本 is a neutral reference to oneself (either person or organization). It's not an honorific.

You might be thinking of 鄙 (as 鄙人, 鄙公司, 鄙国), which is an honorific and used to refer to oneself in a humble way. It's not that commonly used in mainland China (though 贵 still is), but it might be more common in HK or Taiwan.

To my knowledge, there is no such thing as honorific verbs in Chinese. Of course, there are different vocabulary usage that varies with who are addressing. But that's the difference between slang, colloquial speech and formal speech, and that difference probably exists in all languages and is different from the honorifics that you see in Japanese.

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studentyoung
Are there any difference in verbs (humble and honorific), like talking about yourself or your in-group vs the other party?

Well, there are some humble and honorific verbs used to show upper or lower classes, perhaps.

For example:

恭请 / 敬请

拜读 / 拜上

望乞 (望乞恕罪)

谨题 / 恭书

etc.

Cheers!

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chrix

atitarev, what exactly do you mean by "traces of keigo in Chinese"?

your first example is only a structural similarity, since the O prefix is of Native Japanese origin.

Many other components of Japanese keigo are also Native.

There's a number of expressions, mostly sonkeigo 尊敬語 and kensongo 謙遜語(there's three main types of keigo), that are from the Sino-Japanese stratum, but without hitting the books I wouldn't be sure if they were coined by the Japanese themselves or borrowed from Chinese (Japanese-style 文言文 was used in Japan until modern times).

Some examples:

- 愚妻 (your wife even if she is way smarter than you)、豚児 (your son even if he's an athlete)、小生 (1.p.sg.pronoun used by men in writing)

- 拝見する (kensongo)、拝借する (kensongo), 頂戴する (kensongo)、御覧になる (sonkeigo)

There's more, but that's what popped into my head.

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atitarev

Thanks all.

Chrix, I don't mean any scientific research by my question, just interested in similaraties in honorifics, accidental or for a reason, structural, lexical or grammatical.

I find it interesting that a few stock phrases to do with Japanese ceremonial ways have at least, an equivalent in Chinese, which is may be out of use.

Not sure if it's coincidental (I have no theory just curious) that when one wishes to say "feel at home" or "take it easy" both Japanese and Chinese use the word "slow".

どうぞ、ごゆっくり (dōzo, go-yukkuri) - 慢用,慢用 or 慢走, 慢走

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chrix

re yukkuri: this might be because in Japanese it doesn't just mean "slow", but also "at one's leisure", as in ゆっくりする

OK, I understand what you're after now, so in any kind of comparison between Modern Chinese and Modern Japanese, I'd note that honorifics play a much larger role in Japanese, since Japanese has grammaticalised honorifics, while Chinese has not. Both languages do have also honorific vocabulary to a certain degree, and due to cultural and historical influences, you're bound to find parallels in this area.

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atitarev

re: yukkuri again

Well, i think that's the original meaning - "slow", which then also acquired the meaning of "at leisure", "no rush".

Like any other feature, lack of grammatical or morphological features is compensated lexically but grammatically as well (obviously not involving the changes of the word form in Chinese).

When I have a chance, I post a few parallels in honorifics I came across before, as I said, they are are easier to find in translations from Japanese.

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chrix

Well, when I have the time I will try and check it. One lesson I've learnt in linguistics is that one's own opinion about some kind of phenomenon is more often than not not borne out by the actual facts. But that's fine, speakers don't carry the historical information in their putative language organ, after all :mrgreen:

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889

I'd regard 师傅 shifu as a common honorific these days.

And 老 lao, as well.

Except when it precedes 外 wai.

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chrix

and how is this from Japanese?

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889

The OP asked:

"Is it true that Chinese lost a lot of ceremonial phrases during the previous century?

"We have 您, 贵 remainders in the modern language but these are the only ones I know, are there more?"

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chrix

ok thanks for clearing that up.

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rob07

I think 位 rates a mention as a measure word for people that is inherently respectful (my dictionary says 用于人,含敬意). Note that it can be used as a direct form of address, albeit normally only to a group of people (eg 各位兄弟,各位代表).

There is also a usage of 家 as a component part of certain nouns that is inherently respectful (eg 政治家, statesman, 文学家 man of letters).

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trien27

內子 was used prior to the overthrowing of the Ch'ing / Qing dynasty to refer to "one's own wife", in Chinese which is borrowed by Japanese and used in the same way but as "內人" which comes from Tang dynasty rather than 內子 which is used by Chinese sometime after the Tang dynasty up until the end of the Qing dynasty.

There is also a usage of 家 as a component part of certain nouns that is inherently respectful (eg 政治家, statesman, 文学家 man of letters).

Wrong. 家 here is only short for "专家" meaning "An expert or specialist in some field".

Edited by trien27

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chrix
Wrong. 家 here is only short for "专家" meaning "specialist".

No, it's not short for 專家, this usage of 家 already existed by the Han era, before the word 專家 had even been coined.

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trien27
豚児

The Chinese would say "犬兒" instead in reference to their own son.

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zhxlier

Speaking of 位……

Restaurant staff would ask "几位“ when you get in. I think the correct reply is "number+个” as 位 is honorific. So many people just reply "number + 个“ which irritates me...

I think 位 rates a mention as a measure word for people that is inherently respectful (my dictionary says 用于人,含敬意). Note that it can be used as a direct form of address, albeit normally only to a group of people (eg 各位兄弟,各位代表).

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