Everyone’s favourite Japanese honorific forms(敬語)
Part 1: polite form 丁寧語(Teineigo)
I believe that every Japanese program in universities has lessons or chapters on Keigo(Japanese honoritif forms). Why does it so important? and why it is so hard?
Well, many Japanese people misunderstand the usage of Keigo often. If you are not planning to get a job in Japan or at Japanese companies, do not worry about it too much.
Keigo (honorific forms) has a tight connection to Japanese identities. Many people say “Japanese people are so nice, so kind, so respectful, so honorable, and so respectful” which is great, but sometimes Japanese people are being less aggressive. The kanji “和” can be translated as “harmony”, and it represents Japan itself.
Keigo is the beauty of the Japanese language, I believe. Sometimes young generations refuse to use Keigo as a defiant action. However, if you want to engage with Japanese culture, Keigo is required in any Japanese society. It shows your personality, literacy, and cultural level.
If you cannot use appropriate Keigo, here is a solution:
Use Teineigo (丁寧語): “です(desu)、ます(masu)” as be-verb.
Let me introduce Japanese verb system:
“-desu” is used as be verb in English: e.g. My name is Paul “私はポールです (Watashi ha Paul desu)”.
“masu” is a bit complicated, there are 3 types of Japanese verbs: 1) dictionary form, 2) vowel ending forms, and 3) consonant ending forms.2) and 3) are derived from 1) dictionary form. Importantly, Japanese verbs are structured by “Stem”+”suffix”. Hence, the meaning of vowel and consonant ending is the ending of the verb stems usually Japanese words are Consonant Vowel (CV) structure. Let me explain this in the future post.
Anyway, this is how Japanese polite forms work. When the verb is consonant stem, you need to insert “-imasu”.
|Dictionary form||Stem + suffix||vowel-ending||consonant-ending|
|Tabe + ru||Tabe -masu||NO|
|nom + u||NO||nom +imasu|
I introduced the basic of Japanese verb and polite form structure very briefly here, but this concept is very important to learn Japanese. I will update the list of words with stems soon.