Monday, October 6, 2008

The Japanese Suffix -San and other Honorifics

A common feature of Japanese morphology that most people are familiar with even if they don't know Japanese is the use of the suffix san. The suffix san when added to a person's name signifies that the speaker has great respect for the person he or she is addressing. What some people may not know is that in linguistics this type of suffix is called an honorific. There are many other Japanese honorifics as well, including: Kun, Chan, Sensai, and Shi.

Honorifics appear as suffixes and in other forms in many other languages and cultures too. English has honorifics, though they precede and are not attached to a person's name. English honorifics include: Mr., Mrs., Miss, Master, Sir, Dr. and the like. You might be surprised to know that even words like dude, bro, and girl can be used as honorifics.

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