Saturday, January 23, 2016

The subject honorific suffix 「-(으)시」

When Koreans wish to honor the subject of the sentence, they make a predicate form honorific by attaching the honorific suffix -(으)시 to the stem of the predicate. The honorific suffix -(으)시 is a pre-final ending that comes between the stem of the predicate and the final ending. -으시 is added after the stem that ends in a consonant, as in 찾으시다(찾 + 으시 + 다, look for), and 시 is added after a stem that ends in a vowel, as in 가시다(가 + 시 + 다, go).


Notice that although the referential meanings of the verbs 가다 and 가시다(or 입다 and 입으시다) are the same, their social meanings are different. The presence of the honorific suffix indicates the speaker’s attitude toward the subject of the sentence.
Various social variables that are ascribed and/or achieved determine the honorific suffix usage. For instance, Koreans use the honorific suffix when they talk to or talk about their older family members, older people in general, people of esteemed occupations, senior-rank personnel, and so forth.
The subject being honored can be either an addressee (to whom the speaker is talking) or a referent (who the speaker is talking about). Consider the following examples:


Notice that in 1, the subject being honored is the addressee, whereas the subject of 2 is the third-person referent.
The use of different speech level endings is related to who you are talking to rather than who you are talking about. In other words, the choice of appropriate speech levels depends on the addressee not on the referent. However, since the honorific suffix honors the subject of the sentence, the suffix can be used with any other speech levels. For instance, one of the Korean speech levels used to address a child or childhood-friend is the intimate speech level -어/아. Consider the following sentence:


Notice that the speaker uses the intimate speech level but honors the mother by using the suffix.
The following Korean verbs that have the corresponding honorific forms, do not take the suffix to their stems.


However, notice that the suffix 􃔲 is already part of these euphemistic verbs.
Meanwhile, Koreans do not use the honorific suffix when the subject of the sentence is the speaker himself or herself. In other words, one does not show honor toward him/herself. Consider the following samples:


Notice that speaker A uses the suffix when asking the question to B. However, speaker B does not use the suffix in the reply.

* Click to read related posts.
Grammar for Intermediates
Endings of Sentences
The Deferential Speech Level
The Polite Speech Level
Intention & Willingness (-ㄹ래요 & -ㄹ게요)
Inferential and intentional suffix 「-겠」

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