4

I have seen 어떻게 되다 used for asking politely about personal attributes:

성함이 어떻게 되세요? => What is your name?

아버님은 연세가 어떻게 되세요? => How old is your father?

But I have also seen examples like

오늘 환율은 어떻게 되지요? => What is today's exchange rate?

이 컴퓨터는 가격이 어떻게 되지요? => How much is this computer?

Sometimes when I am trying to politely ask what something is I say '뭡니까?' but I'm not sure I often hear native speakers say that. Is 어떻게 되다 a generally-usable way to ask politely what something is, or is it specific to certain situations?

2

As a general rule, just like in English, people think it's more polite if you can say the same sentence using more (meaningless) words. For example, you can ask a person's name by

  • Could you tell me your name?

rather than

  • What is your name?

and the former is generally considered more polite.

The same goes here for Korean,

  • 이름이 뭐야? (to someone in lower status/standing)
  • 이름이 뭡니까? (in a formal, businesslike situation)
  • 이름이 어떻게 되세요? (pretty polite)
  • 이름이 어떻게 되시는지요? (even more polite)

Note that 되(-다) verb here is very light, carrying almost no meaning (like verb be).

Also note that the bottom two sound quite awkward, since to the nouns (이름) do not correspond to the level of politeness from the verbs. 성함 or 존함 would be okay, as in OP's example.

Lastly, some argue that 이름(성함)이 어떻게 되세요(되시는지요)? is ungrammatical, since here the speaker raises the name of the listener (the subject of the sentence), not the actual person. The point is that you must use -시- honorific tail only with human subject. From this perspective, you should ask 이름이 어떻게 돼요(됩니까)? Still, a lot of people use -시- with a person's property in real life, especially in CS/CRM industry.

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0

I think '어떻게 되다' has nothing to do with politeness.
'뭐예요' is also polite exression because ~예요 has honorific meaning.

It is same expression of '어찌되다.'
See http://dic.daum.net/word/view.do?wordid=kkw000212241&supid=kku000220865

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