Speech patterns designed to shows respect. Japanese has many honorifics, and their use is mandatory in many social situations. Honorifics may be used to emphasise social distance or disparity in rank, or to emphasise social intimacy or similarity in rank. The system of honorifics in Japan is very extensive, including various levels of respectful, humble, and polite speech, and it closely resembles the honorific systems of the Korean language, and in some elements, Chinese. Honorifics in Japanese are broadly referred to as keigo ("respectful language"), and fall under three main categories: sonkeigo (respectful language), kensongo or kenjōgo (modest or humble language), and teineigo (polite language). Each type of speech has its own vocabulary and verb endings. For example, the standard form of the verb to do is suru. This form is appropriate with family members and close friends. The polite (teineigo) form of suru is shimasu. This form is appropriate in most daily interactions. When showing respect, such as when talking about a customer or a superior, however, the polite form shimasu becomes the exalted (sonkeigo) form nasaimasu, and when referring to one's own actions or the actions of a group member, it becomes the humble (kenjōgo) itashimasu or shiteorimasu. A mastery of honorifics is especially important in the business world. (from Wikipedia).
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