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Are 謙譲語 and 尊敬語 used with all senior people?

healer

Sempai
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Examples such as the following:
差し上げる
下さる
頂く
Do we use them only for professional titles such as 先生 and those outside of the family?I had supposed parents and grandparents , uncles and aunts, elder brothers or elder sisters and so on are also in this category. Apparently it is not the case. What about government servants like police officer or civil servants and so on?
 

bentenmusume

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謙譲語 and 尊敬語 are something that, while you can memorize the forms and fundamental usage patterns from a textbook or a class, it's going to be hard to really get a full handle on all the implications without exposure to "living" Japanese culture and society, be it through actually spending time in to Japan or through _extensive_ exposure to Japanese media or what-have-you.

I'm afraid I can only scratch the surface in a post like this, but basically, the times when you'll want to use 敬語 (encompassing 謙譲語 when referring to yourself, and 尊敬語 when referring to the other party) are when you're dealing with your superiors, customers/clients, or people of high social station (i.e. lawyers, teachers, etc.) in formal situations.

Family members are not (at least, not unless we're talking about extreme aristocratic/patrician-type families) going to use flowery 敬語 towards their own elder siblings, parents, aunts/uncles, grandparents, etc. because these relatives are part of their in-group. Similarly, it would sound strange for you to use 謙譲語 and 尊敬語 towards the clerk at city hall or the bank manager because these people are technically in a position to serve you. (It would be _more_ likely, in fact, for them to use this language towards you, the customer.) In these situations, typical 丁寧語 (~です/~ます form)will more than suffice and will never be considered "rude".

At the same time, even if someone is younger then you, if you're working at an office and they're the client, you'd generally be expected to use these forms with them. You even find interesting situations where you might refer to your _own_ boss (or your own father/grandparent/etc. or someone similarly "superior" or "elder" to you) with humble forms when speaking with a member of the "out-group".

Long story short, it's not so simple as considering "elder" and "superior" status, as a lot of the specific details of how these forms are used depend on the notion of in-group/out-group. It's something you'll just gradually have to pick up as you get more comfortable and accustomed to Japanese society and social constructs.
 

healer

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Thanks!
It's a very good explanation.
Basically it is a matter of in-group or out-group that the referent is in.
 
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