1-9 Polite Language

Verbs:「ます」 Adjectives:「おす」 Nouns:「どす/です」


1-9-1 Polite Language Auxiliary Verbs

「どすおす」, said to be Japan's most florid polite language words, have lately gone off somewhere. Now, even in Kyoto, most people use the standard「ですます」words.

Above all, the so-called "TV generation" born after the mid-60s to mid-70s (Showa 40s), though they normally speak with Kyoto accents, when they use「ですます」their accent also switches to the standard (the author was also once like this).

However, leaving that reality aside for the time being, this section is mainly concerned with introducing the Original Kyoto polite expressions.

1-9-1-1 Verbs:「ます」

As this is an expression that matches up with the standard dialect, there is no need to explain it once more. However, there are differences in conjugation.

 「ん」of「ます」negative「ません」, is the same thing as the「ん」of「書かん」or「読まん」, so this「ません」can be used to conjugate as in normal verbs in Kyo-kotoba.

Table 1:「ます」Conjugation Examples
Example Word「ある」「する」
Predicate / Attributiveありますします
Volitional / Hypotheticalありましょうしましょう
Negative Past ありませなんだ
Negative Conjunctive ありませず

1-9-1-2 Adjectives:「おす」or「ございます」

Attaching 「おす」or「ございます」to adjective conjunctive forms, adjectives are made into their polite form.


The meaning and usage are completely the same, but「ございます」is much more polite.

「ございます」is「ござい」+ the above auxiliary「ます」, and thus the conjugation is the same as「ます」.

「おす」conjugates as shown below.

Table 2 「おす」conjugation (サ-irregular)
Predicate / Attributive おす ●●
Past おした ●○○
Conjunctive おして ●○○
Hypothetical おすやろ *1 ●●●○
Negative おへん *2 ●●●
Negative Past おへなんだ ●●○○○
Negative Conjunctive おへんと

In Tokyo「ございます」is not used very much in non-formal situations, but in Kyoto it is comparatively used more often.

However, recently there is a push towards the standard dialect「広いです」「高いです」style of speaking, and one does not often encounter people who use this「広おす」「高ございます」style of speaking. It is unfortunate, despite that this way is more suited to the grammar.

1-9-1-3 Nouns:「どす」

A word that corresponds to standard「です」, its meaning and place of usage are virtually the same, with the only exception being that「どす」is not attached to adjectives.

In the standard dialect,「青いです」「高いです」are commonly used, but in Kyo-kotoba「青いどす」「高いどす」are not.

In such situations, the aforementioned「おす」is used to form「青おす(あおおす<あおうおす)」「高おす(たこおす<たこうおす)」.

It is said that「どす」is a contraction of「何々でおす」, and it conjugates as shown below.

Table 3 「どす」Conjugation
Predicate / Attributive どす ●●
Past どした ●○○
Conjunctive どして ●○○
Hypothetical どすやろ * ●●●○

「どす」is most probably thought of as a Kyoto-ish word by those from other prefectures.

Yet in reality, even in the time period when「どす」was more widely used, in the areas where the imperial family and many samurai families live (had lived),「でございます」and「であらっしゃる」was preferred, and thus「どす」was hardly used.

1-9-1-3-1 「です」

To think of「です」as a word that spilled over as an influence of the standard dialect, it is not normally seen as "Kyo-kotoba", but nowadays it has substituted the previous「どす」 and widely permeates Kyoto.

The「です」conjugation is shown below.

Table 4 「です」Conjugation
Predicate / Attributive です ●●
Past でした ●○○
Conjunctive でして ●○○
Hypothetical ですやろ *

As one can see, it is fundamentally a change of the「ど」of「どす」to「で」.

Comparing with the standard dialect, excepting the hypothetical「ですやろ・でっしゃろ」, there is no great difference. More and more, recently those who substitute「ですやろ・でっしゃろ」with「でしょう」have grown in number.

Furthermore, it was not shown in the above table, but「でしょう」is also often pronounced with accent pattern[○○○]. The reason for this is introduced in the Accent Section.

1-9-1-4 Polite Language Auxiliary Ranking Table

Here I separate the above auxiliaries by level of politeness and order them into a table.

Table 5 Degree of Politeness of Auxiliaries
Example Word (plain form) Verb「ある」 Adjective「白い」 Noun「ここ」
Polite Form (high) あります 白うございます ここでございます
Polite Form (normal) 白うおす ここどす(<〜ど-おす<〜で-おす)

1-9-2 Misc.: "Polite-ification" Tendencies Often Seen in Kyo-kotoba

(1) "さん-attachment" to inanimate objects
 It is probably seen as odd in the eyes of those from other prefectures, but in Kyoto there is "さん-attachment" even for inanimate objects.
 The targets of this "さん-attachment" seem to mainly be related to foods such as「飴さん、あげさん(油揚げ)、ふーさん(麩)」etc. and Buddhist temples and shrines such「八坂さん(八坂神社)」and「お稲荷さん(稲荷大社)」etc. Well, there are also strange things such as「うんこさん」etc. as well...
 There are other polite expressions akin to this "さん-attachment," such as words with prefix「お」, as in「おこた、おだい(大根)、お寺」and words that use this「お」along with "さん-attachment," such as「おかい(粥)さん、おまめさん」.
 However,「お」and「さん」do not attach to just any word, but rather there is an unspoken understanding of which words they can attach to and which words they cannot.
(2) Replacement of crude words
 E.g. the pattern of avoiding「食う」and saying「食べる」, avoiding「やる」and saying「する」, avoiding「うまい」and saying「おいしい」, avoiding「(味が)まずい」and saying「あじない」etc.
 (When it first came from Tokyo, I was surprised when I saw that even women said「食う」, but in Kyoto it is normally「食べる」. More and more, children who wish to seem older to others purposefully prefer the use of crude language. Of course, this is also the tendency in Kyoto).
(3) Using indirect language

When asking a stranger for a favor, and also when refusing a stranger's request, in Kyoto one uses indirect expressions and has the listener guess at what the speaker means to say.
  For example, when wishing to refuse「手伝いましょか?」, instead of directly saying「結構です」, one says「へぇおーきに。けどまぁ一人でも何とかなりまっさかい」and stops at that point. In Kyoto, words like「お断りしときまっさ」which would come after the previous phrase are already understood by the speaker and the listener.

Also in the Kyoto area, the hackneyed phrase「考えときます」for refusing requests also exists, so it should also probably be considered as an indirect expression.

There are many cases where people who do not know these sorts of Kyoto indirect expressions will hear them and think "So what's the conclusion?", so these people from other areas will probably find it vexing.

However, indirect expressions of this sort, due to the desire to avoid hurting the listener's feelings from use of crude expressions, also are the definition of Kyoto people's concerns.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict