third person pronoun with exalted register

Like a number of other East Asian languages, Japanese uses a complex system of honorifics, i.e. a system where a number of different levels of politeness are expressed in language via words, word forms or grammatical constructs. These can range from addressing someone or referring to someone with contempt (very informal) to expressing the highest level of reference (as used in addressing or referring to God) or any number of levels in-between.

One way Japanese show different degree of politeness is through the choice of a third person pronoun (“he,” “she,” “it” and their various forms) as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017.

Only in this verse a pronoun (or demonstrative construction) that is respectful on its own in combination with the respectful infix o- is used: kono o-kata (このお方) or “this (highly respected) one.”

(Source: S. E. Doi, see also S. E. Doi in Journal of Translation, 18/2022, p. 37ff. )

See also first person pronoun with low register and second person pronoun with low register.

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