I have learned that "plate" is both sara and osara.

The fact that the o can be attached implies to me that it is an honorific o 御.

My dictionary gives the honorific o as 御 but for osara it gives it as お.

Is "plate" written as both おさら and 御さら?


In osara, the o is indeed honorific and it is commonly written in kana as お, but sometimes also as 御. As you are likely aware, there is often some flexibility in choosing between kanji, hiragana and katakana to write any given text.

As for osara, it would usually be written as お皿, because the honorific o is usually written お and because sara is usually written 皿 (this kanji is taught already in third grade of primary school). As I mentioned, deviations are possible, but I would say that 御さら is actually a combination you will basically never come across in real life. (Note that 御 is not taught until secondary school.)

The same would be true about ocha "tea", which will usually be written お茶, sometimes 御茶, rarely おちゃ and never 御ちゃ.

  • 4
    To add some perspective, both the official Jōyō list and the newspaper corrections of it actually prescribe not to use the kanji 御 unless the reading is ゴ, ギョ, or おん. So, both お and み are to be written in kana. Of course, the actual usage varies. – Alexander Z. Dec 27 '20 at 15:41

Most likely お in お皿 is an example of so called 女房言葉 - basically a way of making words sound "polite" or "fancy" by using the お prefix. There are many other examples used in everyday Japanese: おでん、おかか、おこわ、おはぎ etc.

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