Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Languages and Cultures

First Advisor

Atsushi Fukada

Committee Member 1

Kazumi Hatasa

Committee Member 2

Mariko Moroishi Wei


Obana (2000) and Inoue (1979) state that professors/doctors receive exalting language from administrative staff members when they refer to professors/doctors with people from outside. Similarly, Kego no Shishin (2007) suggests that administrative staff members in educational/medical institutions can use an honorary title with professors/doctors. Obana's and Inoue's claims and Kego no Shishin's recommendation is not in line with the concept of relative honorifics. Considering the fact that Obana's and Inoue's claims have yet to be supported by an empirical study, this study attempted to investigate honorific usage in educational and medical institutions in order to 1) test Obana's and Inoue's claims, and 2) examine how closely the current usage follows Kego no Shishin's recommendation. This questionnaire study found a small number of instances where professors/doctors receive exalting language as well as honorary titles from administrative staff members. Notably males over 40s in educational organizations used exalting language more frequently than the rest of the participants. A great majority of the participants in both institutions, however, favored humbling language over exalting language regardless of their organization type, gender, age, experience, and location. This result constitutes evidence against Obana's and Inoue's claims. Another finding is that participants who use humbling language still use the honorary titles. This particular honorific usage is interpreted as reflecting the speaker's ambivalent attitude, but it is in line with the recommendation provided in Kego no Shishin

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