March 8, 2007

When polite becomes impolite, my predictions for nihongo

(warning, you'll probably only get it if you study Japanese, but I did try to put lots of clarification in here)
So I've been noticing something. A lot of things that have polite forms in the Japanese language are actually quite rude, utilizing a kind of sarcasm. For instance, 貴様 (kisama, bastard) essentially means "precious-good-sir". I'm under the impression that that one was always rude, but lately other polite forms seem to be gaining sarcastic meanings. For instance, a couple of people told me today that an honorific like, for example, おありだ (oarida, polite form of aru in "koto ga aru") could be considered to be bitingly sarcastic in some situations.  Then there are things like Onizuka's "Yoroshiku", which has furigana* suggesting every time he says it he thinks a sarcastic double meaning in his head (sorry forgot that how particular one goes).
Basically, my prediction is that within a generation, the kids that are nice enough to not conjugate everything along the e-dan (jyanei instead of jyanai, shinei instead of shinu, hidei instead of hidoi etc) like a yakuza, will still use keigo (polite language) with a sarcastic double meaning. The older generation will probably have no idea that every polite word in the language will by then be rude, and the younger generation will laugh to themselves.

*Is it still called furigana when they are kanji instead of kana or eiji?