I was under the impression that signs requesting that people do things would be in honorific rather that humble speech, however so far I've noticed the opposite.

Could anyone please explain why this is?

  • 3
    Examples would be helpful here. As a general rule, businesses refer politely to their customers and humbly to themselves. That's why JR 電車参ります but お子様の手をつないでください。
    – virmaior
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 2:10
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    on the other hand we have the trusty (and prolific) 止まれ
    – ssb
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 2:37
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    I'm going to say because you aren't their customer and it's not a request. It's a demand from a higher authority. STOP!, or PICK UP YOUR PET'S FECES!, or DON'T LITTER! aren't meant to be polite requests.
    – Kirk
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 3:33
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    My assumption is that it's some traffic standard. I also see スピードを落とせ all over
    – ssb
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 4:29
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    止れ is not kenjougo, it's just a plain order. Kenjougo orders would be stuff like 参れ or 申せ, which I haven't seen on signs. The question seems to be based on a lack of understanding, so it's really not possible to answer it in it's current form.
    – dainichi
    Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 2:59

1 Answer 1


Will definitely need examples here, but in the mean time this may answer your question: both 謙譲語(kenjougo) and 尊敬語(sonkeigo) can be used to "elevate" (「立てる」) the interlocutor. The difference is in whether the object of the "elevation" is the subject of the action described (the "actioner" I'd say - 「行為者」), in which case 尊敬語 is used, or the subject of the action (the "receiver" - 「向かう先」) in which case it is 謙譲語 to be used.

This is explained in great lengths in 敬語の指針:


But this seems to match your understanding of both forms, so without examples, can't be really sure about what you mean by "requesting that people do things" with kenjougo, sorry.

  • 1
    OK then, glad it helped :) Feel free to update your question with examples though, it'd be interesting anyway and you may also be misidentifying the type of keigo of an expression, don't know...
    – desseim
    Commented Jan 21, 2014 at 11:01

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