Volume 3, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1878-9714
  • E-ISSN: 1878-9722
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Some languages use first person inclusive plurals for second person reference. Such usage has often been associated with the notions of solidarity or lesser social distance. However, this line of explanation cannot provide an adequate account for the use of inclusives for second person honorific reference in Ainu, an indigenous language of Japan. Members of an Ainu-speaking community or family have traditionally expressed loyalty or deference to their leader (village or family holder), rather than friendship or companionship. The present paper argues that the usage of first person inclusives for second person reference may be classified into two types: a solidarity-based usage (positive politeness) and a power-based usage (negative politeness) (cf. Brown and Gilman 1960). We aim to demonstrate that the Ainu honorific usage of inclusives can only be explained using the power-based account. A similar power-based honorific usage of inclusives is also attested in some South Asian languages, such as Tamil and Limbu.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Ainu; Honorifics; Inclusives; Positive/Negative Politeness; Power/Solidarity
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