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丁寧語 - For politeness/keeping distance

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丁寧語 - For politeness/keeping distance

Postby 7daytrial » Tue 01.12.2010 9:19 am

I've heard that to show respect someone (someone older than you, senpai..etc) you would use 丁寧語. But I've also heard that if you disliked someone and wanted to keep your distance from them you would use 丁寧語 as well. If someone was speaking to you in 丁寧語, how would you know if they're speaking to you out of respect vs distancing themselves from you?
僕の日本語はどうですか?
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Re: 丁寧語 - For politeness/keeping distance

Postby two_heads_talking » Tue 01.12.2010 5:41 pm

敬語 【けいご】keigo or honorifics is a tricky situation. Alot of it is based on the situation. If your superior is speaking to you in honorifics, especially in a situation where they would normally not use them, you can guarantee it's not a good situation.

However, if you meet someone new, most likely they will use honorifics out of politeness.

I hope that helps some. Your question, though is so very broad that it will be hard to categorize every situation possible.
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Re: 丁寧語 - For politeness/keeping distance

Postby 7daytrial » Wed 01.13.2010 1:02 am

I have a penpal from Tokyo and we often send each other email. She mainly writes back using 丁寧語, but every once in a while a few sentences are in 友達語. She's much older than me but has said: because we are friends it's okay to write in 友達語 every once in a while. I'm much younger than her so it would seem that I would use honorifics, but since we are also friends is it okay to use 友達語 even though I'm much younger?
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Re: 丁寧語 - For politeness/keeping distance

Postby keatonatron » Wed 01.13.2010 6:24 am

7daytrial wrote:If someone was speaking to you in 丁寧語, how would you know if they're speaking to you out of respect vs distancing themselves from you?


It depends on how they are supposed to talk to you. If your girlfriend, who probably should speak plain to you, is using keigo, it's possible she's not too happy. On the other hand, if an employee at a store is talking to you politely, as they are required to, it doesn't have anything to do with them being angry.

Of course a LOT of it has to do with intonation and body language, which is impossible to explain through text :?

7daytrial wrote:I'm much younger than her so it would seem that I would use honorifics, but since we are also friends is it okay to use 友達語 even though I'm much younger?


She won't mind if you speak plainly every once in a while; especially since you're a foreigner!
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Re: 丁寧語 - For politeness/keeping distance

Postby shin1ro » Sat 01.16.2010 2:37 pm

Basically 丁寧語, mixed with some 友達語 is very popular at any situation when you write or talk to senior friends. And it's common the senior would use less 丁寧語 but junior would keep using 丁寧語 more than senior.

If you are friends without any relationship to your job or work, and your penpal "know" young generation tends to speak plain or colloquial language much more than honorific, compare to adult people.
If your friend know you're young enough, no problem to use plain language. But at least when you ask something to her, I'd suggest you may want to use polite です/ます style, but probably -ございます is too polite to use (unless an idiom such as おはようございます).

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Re: 丁寧語 - For politeness/keeping distance

Postby furrykef » Thu 02.04.2010 2:12 pm

You can basically think of 丁寧語 as a form of social distance. The reason that using 丁寧語 when it's not expected can be rude is because it's basically saying, "I don't know you." It's the verbal equivalent of walking up to some guys you hang out with and for some reason they keep stepping back a couple feet when you get close to them -- obviously you did something wrong and they don't want to associate with you too strongly at the moment.

But it's polite when talking to strangers for exactly the same reason: in that case you really don't know them, so you should act like it.
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