Keigo Konfusion - いらっしゃる vs お~になる

In this sentence:

田中さん今本を○○○○ 。(using 読む)
Tanaka is reading a book right now.

I thought you could fill in the blanks with, お読みになっています, but it looks like that was wrong. Instead the answer was 読んでいらっしゃる.

What’s the nuance I’m missing in these constructions? It’s quite confusing and it feels like they’re interchangeable.

A quick search here didn’t seem to yield anything, but if I’m making a duplicate thread, my bad!

(Oops, didn’t notice the grammar subforum + the short grammar questions thread. I’ll ask there next time.)

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I’m thinking it’s an issue of being in a state of doing? Put in regular form, it would read as:

田中さんは今本を読んでいます

Which would have the ている translate into でいらっしゃる

While お v になる can be used for general forms that don’t have a direct translation to honorific form, I think the state of doing was the important part of translating?

Edit: Actually I just realized that didn’t technically answer your question, let me research a little bit lol

I can’t really think of a reason why お読みになっています is wrong without more context for what was asked, but just to be clear お読みになさっています is definitely wrong. But perhaps that was just a typo?

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Yeah, that was a typo. I meant to type になる (what I answered with) and not になさる. My bad.

As for context, all there is is the sentence alone, so I can’t provide any! :frowning: Could it change depending on context?

According to above site, it’s a matter of the subject! So because you’re not directly addressing Tanaka-san (and raising him “up” with keigo), you don’t use the お v になる. お v になる would be used in a situation if you were an employee talking to a customer, if they would like to do v! But because you’re describing what Tanaka is doing, you use でいらっしゃる

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I’m not sure you can come too that conclusion with that Tae Kim link.

I think that because keigo is so confusing, even to Japanese, there may not be a satisfying explanation to this question.

For example, 言っています could technically be said as おっしゃっていらっしゃる, which I’ve virtually heard no one say. It’s these cases that I have wished resources weren’t so incomplete in their explanations.

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True!
It possibly falls along the same lines of not really having a definitive rule for transitive/intrasitive pronunciation on words lol
I think it works as a means for a simple explaination now, but if we really want to find a better answer, using apps like HelloTalk would be awesome to hear what a native speaker thinks! Maybe I’ll take up emailing one of my former professors about it.

My experience with keigo is still horribly little since I’ve rarely had to use it myself, so sites like the Tae Kim link work as a good quick reminder for me, outside of trying to know the nuances.

Those who teach Japanese aside, I’m not sure if asking a native will help a lot because many I’ve consulted don’t feel like an authority enough to put themselves out there for questions like these. I say this because I’ve had native speakers on HelloTalk tell me that おverbします is not a correct use of humble speech despite お願いします being a very visible example of this.

In the same way that I know many native English speakers aren’t authorities on English grammar, the average Japanese speaker isn’t either. Because of this, I’ve opted for grammar sites targeted to native speakers to help bring awareness about the widespread misuse of certain honorific and humble expressions. The main issue I come across with having this knowledge is when I’m speaking to people who don’t know about these misuses, they don’t readily believe me as a learner because they themselves never knew anything different.

The linguist in me has a feeling that keigo is likely to transform drastically in the next hundred years to be more understandable and useable by Japanese speakers.

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Yeah, keigo is notoriously difficult even for natives. The other day I saw a sign at a bank that I believe incorrectly used a humble verb (いたす) to describe a customer’s action. And that’s not even off the cuff.

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From taking linguistics courses in the past I’m also interested in how things will change as time passes. Sucks that there doesn’t seem to be a clear-cut easy answer, but for now I’ll settle for pulling the gaijin card out if I mess up. Seems like one of those things you just need to get a feeling for from reading lots of material.

If it helps any, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the お v になる not in a situation directed toward the subject, so that explanation above–even if it’s not a hard rule–immediately seemed reasonable to me.

Maybe you could at least use it as a general guideline until another real-world example or live reaction helps firm things up.

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I do not have any first-hand experience at all with keigo, but I’ve read a bit, and as far as I know, I agree with Leebo that both are fine. See for example Kishimoto 2011, Subject honorification and the position of subjects in Japanese (extract from the abstract below).

This proposal provides a straightforward account for some honorification facts […] the fact that subject honorification is often, but not always, possible at two distinct structural levels in the aspectual construction where the main verb is followed by the aspectual verb iru

He compares subjects marked directly with が (where exaltation can appear both on the auxiliary iru and the main verb) and those marked indirectly with から (where it can generally only occur on the main verb, though he notes that いらっしゃる is a bit special, but whatever), but for our purpose, we can simply assume thematisation by は, obligatorily dropping が.

I’m a bit sceptical. This would seem to disagree with all accounts of the phenomenon I’ve ever read. AFAIK there is widespread agreement in the linguistic community that お…になる is a construct that elevates the subject of the sentence, which specifically does not require the person to be in presence. For a basic / classic account, see Martin’s Reference Grammar, chapter 6. (I mean, if you care about a more authoritative source. Otherwise, Tae Kim or Imabi describe the patterns just fine.)

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