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Are honorifics things you add to a word/sentence to raise the level of politeness/respect?

Or are honorifics different levels of politeness/respect of words/sentences?

Or do you add things to a word/sentence to make it honorific?

I understand how “honorifics” work, but the precise name/description of this grammatical principle has been very unclear to me in my studies. Different credible resources seem to use different meanings and as different parts of speech. (Ex: Chapters in books called “Honorifics”, but highly upvoted posts here saying a sentence is in the past tense and “honorific”.)

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Honorifics HON

Are honorifics things you add to a word/sentence to raise the level of politeness/respect?

Yes.

Are honorifics different levels of politeness/respect of words/sentences?

No. Should be called “honorific levels.”

Do you add things to a word/sentence to make it honorific?

Right. “The things” can be

  • postpositions
    • “께” and “께서”
  • use of certain words
    • “선생님” instead of “선생”
    • “아버님” instead of “아버지” See the usage note in the comments below.
    • “진지” for “밥”
    • “말씀” for “말”
    • dependent noun “분” for “사람”
    • “그분” for “그 사람”
    • “저분” for “저 사람”
    • “저” for “나”
    • “저희” for “우리”
    • “여쭈다” for “묻다”
    • “드시다” for “먹다”
    • dependent noun “님”
  • suffixes
    • “-님”
  • or conjugations
    • “알았어요” (ending “-요”) or “알았습니다” (ending “-습니다”) for “알았다”
    • “보시다” (conjugation “-시-” to the verb “보다”)

. These things slightly humble yourself or raise others to do their job. And expressions with such gizmos (“honorifics”as a noun) are said to be honorificas an adjective.


Is the English word “honorific” a noun or an adjective?

Both; a sentence is honorificADJ when having honorificsNOUN, but never be an honorificNOUN.

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  • I think that 아버님 is not a honorific of 아버지 : Someone, who is not a child of Tom's father and knows Tom, calls Tom's father a honorific form 아버님. But Tom call his father a honorific form 아버지. – HK Lee Apr 28 '19 at 6:33
  • @HKLee By definition, it is. But right, the usage is as you said. No one calls his own father “아버님,” as it’s way too honorific that it sounds like the speaker's referring to others’ father, not his own. – Константин Ван Apr 28 '19 at 13:10
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    You may call your father 아버님 when you are writing some letters to him or if he is deceased. Nonetheless, many use 아버지 instead of 아버님 even when they have to say 아버님; it is an accepted way now. I assume that this is because the psychological distance between a father and his offspring is shorter now than in the past. // Another honorific for 먹다 is 잡수다. 연세 and 춘추 are honorifics for 나이. Well, more honorifics will be sought from other sources (textbooks and dictionaries). – Klmo Apr 29 '19 at 3:10

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