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Visualizing Japanese Grammar Appendix. Shoko Hamano George Washington University. The terms on the left are descriptive terms. They are used to objectively refer to kinship relationships or to speak of one own family members when talking to outside people.

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VisualizingJapanese GrammarAppendix

Shoko Hamano

George Washington University


The terms on the left are descriptive terms. They are used to objectively refer to kinship relationships or to speak of one own family members when talking to outside people.

The terms on the right are deferential terms. Those in this page are used either to address one’s own elders or to speak of other people’s elders deferentially.

Kinship terms

descriptive terms kinship titles

(addressing one’s own

or speaking of other’s)

mother母(はは) おかあさん

father父(ちち) おとうさん

elder sisterあね おねえさん

elder brotherあに おにいさん

grandmotherそぼ おばあさん

grandfatherそふ おじいさん

auntおば おばさん

uncleおじ おじさん


The terms on the left column are again descriptive terms. to objectively refer to kinship relationships or to speak of one own family members when talking to outside people.

The terms on the right column are deferential terms. used to speak of other people’s family politely.

These terms refer to either collective family members or individual family members lower than the speaker. There are no deferential address terms for such relationships.

Kinship terms

descriptive termskinship titles

(speaking politely

of others’)

both parentsりょうしんごりょうしん

familyかぞく ごかぞく

siblingきょうだい ごきょうだい

younger sisterいもうと いもうとさん

younger brotherおとうと おとうとさん

cousinいとこ (おいとこさん)

childこども おこさん

sonむすこ むすこさん

daughterむすめ むすめさん

grandchildまご おまごさん


The spousal relationships also lack deferential address terms.

Descriptive terms for one’s own spouse tend to proliferate partly because of the awareness of the historical meanings of the traditional terms and partly because of taboo against directly referring to one’s own spouse in public.

Kinship terms

descriptive termskinship titles

(speaking politely

of others’)

wifeつま おくさん

かない

にょうぼう

ワイフ

husbandしゅじん ごしゅじん

おっと

ていしゅ ごていしゅ


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