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Chinese honorifics and honorific language are words, word constructs, and expressions in the Chinese language that convey self-deprecation, social respect, politeness, or deference. The promotion of vernacular Chinese during the New Culture Movement of the 1910s and 1920s in China hastened the demise of a large body of Chinese honorifics used in the vocabulary and grammar of Classical Chinese.

Categories of honorifics

In general, language referring to oneself exhibits self-deprecating humbleness and is called 謙語 (qiānyǔ) (“humble language”).

Language referring to others shows approval and respect, which is called 敬語 (jìngyǔ) (“respectful language”).

Other types of honorific language use include 婉語 (wǎnyǔ) (“indirect language”), 客套語 (kètàoyǔ) (“courteous phrases”), and 雅語 (yáyǔ) (“elegant language”).

Further reading

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References