けんじょうご【謙譲語】

■humble speech one form of 敬語 (けいご)

The subject of the sentence receives a low social status. Note that this is not akin to slinging mud in one's face. On the contrary, use of 謙譲語 shows a willingness to be humble, a praiseworthy trait. In general, the higher the social status a person has, the stronger the tendency for that person to use 謙譲語.

謙譲語 is typically used when the subject of the sentence is the speaker or a member of the speaker's family. There are two main groupings of 謙譲語 verbs.

◇ The special verbs such as 参る居る申す致すいただく must be learned piecemeal. See 敬語動詞の一覧表 for a 敬語 (けいご) correspondence table.

Note that common words such as 墓参り はかまいり cemetery visit and いただきます (said before eating) are derived from these forms.

◇ In addition, there is a pattern for use when doing something for someone else: お + (ます form) + する/いたす. The ます調 (ますちょう) masu forms します and いたします are almost always used instead of する/いたす. Examples:

お渡しします: Give (something to someone)

お貸しいたします: Lend

◇ There are also some nouns that indicate humility. In addition to humble words for family relatives, there are words such as 弊社 my/our company and 小生 I.


This entry was created by Benjamin Barrett with suggestions from Matthew Stevens.


Created 2001-06-08.


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