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lordameth
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 12:23 pm    Post subject: Tono vs Sama Reply with quote
On p184 of Performing the Great Peace, Luke Roberts suggests that "-sama" was in the Edo period more honorific than "-dono." He writes that in a domain history such as the Nendai ryakki written by/for the Yamauchi clan of Tosa, the daimyo of other domains were named honorifically, using the suffix "sama", while hatamoto are named using the less-honorific suffix "dono".

Now, obviously language changes, and so it may just be my modern-Japanese sensibilities (i.e. based on the way these words are used today), but I feel like "dono" is today much more honorific than "sama." We use "sama" all the time, to refer to anyone of particularly high station, and to refer to people not of high station, who we're simply being polite to (e.g. the cashier at the convenience store calling every customer okyaku-sama, or the use of "sama" for the addressee of a letter). "Dono" meanwhile is used only extremely rarely so far as I know, and generally, to my mind at least, has a rather anachronistic ring to it.

I skimmed over a number of dictionary/encyclopedia explanations of these two terms, but none addressed the two terms in comparison, instead simply defining both as terms used to refer to other people honorifically.

So, is it simply a matter of that the language has changed? Has anyone come across any further, deeper, explanation of the hierarchy of these terms?
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
I've seen this before, though I couldn't tell you where.

I'd look at it like this, though: "Tono/-dono" is like saying "Lord". You'd use it with someone of station, but that station may be the same station as your own. Look at the way it's used in dialogue--it's often used much like we'd use "-san" today.

"-sama", for one, is never used by itself like "Tono" is. It's clearly always an appellation.

Further, look at them in comparison: you'd address the Shogun as "Ue-sama", would you not? Would you ever address him as "Ue-dono"? Clearly not. You use the highest appellation for the highest of highs.

Now, fast forward to modern Japanese: seems rather odd to call someone Lord Jones in normal conversation, right? "-dono" would be the same. Yet saying "Sir" or "Ma'am" is standard etiquette, much like "-sama", or the shortened version "-san", is in Japanese. We no longer say "Master Jones" either, or "Mistress Smith". Language changes, which you well know--and in this way it's changed similarly in English and Japanese.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 4:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
Ah, well, now it suddenly pops into place.

You're right - I guess you would use "Lord" including for equals, or even for people of lower station, whereas "sama" is only used for people of higher station.

So, a Maeda could call other people Uesugi-dono, or Yamauchi-dono, but would use "sama" for Tokugawa ue-sama.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 6:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Tono vs Sama Reply with quote
Your title "tono vs Sama" puts the question wrong. It should be "Dono vs Sama" since "tono" is not a word used with titles and names like dono and sama are. Just think of "tono-sama."
lordameth wrote:
On p184 of Performing the Great Peace, Luke Roberts suggests that "-sama" was in the Edo period more honorific than "-dono."
That is certainly true, as one can tell from letters of the time, or even from jidai-geki.
Quote:
but I feel like "dono" is today much more honorific than "sama."... "Dono" meanwhile is used only extremely rarely so far as I know, and generally, to my mind at least, has a rather anachronistic ring to it.
I don't think "-dono" is more honorific now, it just has virtually fallen out of use in modern language. The only use I have come across is that by government agencies. The first time I saw it was in the address of a letter from something like the Drivers License Bureau, though some letters from the city that I checked now used "-sama." Where I see it most is in papers to bureaucrats: I have in front of me a tax form that has at near the top "Zeimusho-chô dono" 税務署長 殿 (Head of the Tax Office)
I have seen a similar usage with fee-payment slips. But some tax forms just say 税務署長. They would never use 税務署長 様, though.

Nowadays, the use of -sama with names is quite rare--mostly in the address of a letter--not in the body--except in commercial contexts. When I get a phone call to XX-sama, I know it is a call from a business, perhaps one I have contact with, perhaps a sales pitch. I have also heard -sama used in introductions at wedding receptions.
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