Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



World Languages and Literatures

First Advisor

Rika Saito

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Angles

Third Advisor

Carlos Pimentel


Japanese pragmatics, subsidiary verbs, honorifics, (im)politeness, moushiageru, moushiagete-oku


This study examines the construction of “moushiagete oku ” for politeness. A survey was distributed via academic networks to native speakers of Japanese. The survey consisted of fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice demographic questions and three scenarios involving the usage of the referential honorifics “moushiageru” and “moushiagete-oku.” The consensus amongst participants in this study is that using “moushiageru” is polite. In the context of a political debate, the majority of participants felt that its usage is polite. In contrast, there was less consensus on whether the usage of “moushiagete-oku” is polite. In the context of a political debate, 60.5% felt that the usage was polite. In contrast, in the context of a general assembly for the National Japanese Language Council, 65.8% found its usage polite. Based on a qualitative analysis of responses to reasoning why participants felt that “moushiagete-oku” is polite or rude, it was found that adding the subsidiary verb “-teoku” to “moushiageru” produced mixed feelings amongst participants. Of those who felt that its usage was not polite, half felt that it was impolite, while the other half were undecided or felt that it was neither polite nor rude. Despite mixed feelings, most participants felt that the usage of “moushiagete-oku” is polite. This study is of importance because research on the effects of adding subsidiary verbs to keigo is scarce. Although there isn’t a formula on what may be allowed regarding adding auxiliary verbs to keigo, the addition of a subsidiary verb under specific contexts may give listeners a poor impression of the interlocutor. In addition, native speakers of Japanese also struggle with using keigo appropriately; therefore, understanding the impressions one might give is helpful.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted