I'm having trouble putting this question into words, especially short enough to use as the question title, basically I'm confused about what the term "keigo" applies to:
- Is it just the addition of honorific, humble, polite, respectful elements to what otherwise might be called a "non keigo" utterance?
- Or is it a term which covers the whole process or set of rules governing when to apply and not apply such elements?
So is it possible to contrast vanilla plain Japanese to keigo Japanese? Where is the line drawn? When a single honorific, humble, polite, or respectful element is added to an utterance does it become a keigo utterance? To make an utterance totally non keigo do I have to go so far as to remove the o- prefix from mizu? Is keigo a continuum or an optional extra?
EDIT to clarify the difference between this and my previous keigo question:
The previous question was to find out if "keigo" was a technical/linguistic/grammatical term or just a general term. Now that I know it's a technical term I'm trying to pin down with this question what it means and when it should and shouldn't be used.