What are the honorifics meant to be?
To honor someone, of course. To let people know that you respect them. And maybe, further, to let them know you care or love them. Somehow, it was used for older people. In Indonesia, it was also used to unknown person, no matter what age.
Lately, there’s a slight change about all those things. The culture of using honorifics started to be ignored, especially in mentioning government officials. Even the president itself. (Back in the old days, government officials or figure called “Bung” in Indonesia. It’s an honorific that was being used in revolutionary movement in Indonesia, an honorific used, but never lose the meaning of equality among people.)
Some people think that it’s a moral degradation, that they who leave the use of the honorifics are lacking respects toward other people. But, are they really?
I acknowledged that some people do leave the honorifics to make fun of the certain person. To show that they do no longer respect that person. But, it’s not the same of every people that I know. There are people use it, hm… I don’t know their thoughts behind their action, but certainly in their writing, even if they don’t use the honorifics, they never mean to mock the people they talked about.
True, the removal of honorifics is not Indonesian culture at all. Moreover, we will use special word to describe the most respectable person. One of the word is “beliau” which is used to impersonate “you,” but only for the special person, such as national heroes, the important figure as president, etc.
Furthermore, we even used three different word to impersonate one word, only because it’s meant to be used by different subject. The example is, if God said it, then it will be Tuhan berfirman (similar to commandment, but any sentence said by God, then it’s “firman”). If it’s being said by The Prophet, it will be “sabda” which actually has the same meaning as firman. And if the ordinary people said it, then it will be the usual, “say”, “tell”, or such. In Holy Koran itself, I found it was just the same in every different subject, which is “qul” (meaning : said). There is no difference whatsoever, whether for God or the disbeliever.
Honorifics translate into different kind of words in Indonesia. Come into many terms, I lost the track already.
Back to the slight changes in the Indonesian culture about this honorifics things, I guess it was influenced by culture acculturation. Like in English language, if it’s meant “you,” then it will you for every person we meant. Maybe a little bit different if it meant for God, which is I usually heard as “thee.”
I really agree about people to honor other people. I would think it’s great to show that either. But, to pinpoint the exact word to do it, I don’t think it’s necessary. Okay, but not necessary, let alone be forced. Honor someone is meant to act, to do something good and respectable. It’s the action that actually we need to point it out whenever we want to show respect.
However, to respect also about how we heard someone else’s opinions or wants. So, of course what really matter is considering what other people want. For example, if they do want to be called by honorifics, it won’t hurt to use honorifics, too. It’s like you accepting their subjective opinion even though it’s different for yours.
Well, the last but not least, I am honored enough if you’re willingly read my blog 😉