Honorific Speech in Japanese - Kenjougo (謙譲語)

Honorific Speech in Japanese - Kenjougo (謙譲語)

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Welcome to this page! This article is devoted to Japanese humble language, kenjougo 謙譲語. In English, there isn't a way to humbly express an action unless you say 'I humbly...'. You use this speech when referring to yourself or inner circle, like family and close friends. When using kenjougo you are belittling yourself in order to automatically raise the person with whom you are speaking. However, this is only true if you are speaking with someone in a higher position than you. When speaking with a peer or someone of a lower position, you can either use casual or polite です/ます language. For example, if you are a junior partner conversing with a senior partner, you would refer to their actions with sonkeigo (respectful language [https://www.hillslearning.com/articles/honorific-speech-sonkeigo-2nd-article-of-3]) and yours with kenjougo. However, the senior partner would not refer to their actions in kenjougo because they are above you.

Special Verbs

As regular words do not show enough humility, they transform into special kenjougo words. Most of words undergo minor tweaking, while others are completely transformed. The following are the latter:  

ますstem                                  Kenjougo ますstem

会います                                        お目にかかります

見せます                                        お目にかけます

見ます                                            拝見します (hai ken shimasu)

言います                                        申し上げます (mou shi agemasu)

もらいます                                      いただきます

食べます/飲みます                     いただきます

行きます/来ます                          伺います (ukagai masu) or 参ります (mai ri masu)

聞きます/質問します                  伺います or お聞きします (this 聞く means to ask)

います                                             おります

します                                              いたします



[Learning Honorific Speech – Sonkeigo]

[Learning Honorific Speech  Teineigo]


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