third person pronoun with high 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 singular and plural pronoun (“he,” “she,” “it” and their various forms) as shown here in the widely-used Japanese Shinkaiyaku (新改訳) Bible of 2017. While it’s not uncommon to avoid pronouns altogether in Japanese, there are is a range of third person pronouns that can be used.

In these verses a number of them are used that pay particularly much respect to the referred person (or, in fact, God, as in Exodus 15:2), including kono kata (この方), sono kata (その方), and ano kata (あの方), meaning “this person,” “that person,” and “that person over there.”

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

See also third person pronoun with exalted register.

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