Translation:How are your parents?
54 CommentsThis discussion is locked.
It kind of indicates more respect. Sometimes. I would add that it does partly seem to have something do with animation because it changes the required amoint of respect. For instance, I hear ご used much less often for inanimate objects or concepts but instead お is used i.e. お時間 o-jikan (another person's time), お水 o-mizu (water), お話 o-hanashi (another's speech), etc.
ご usually seems to be used for people, i.e. ご両親 (another's parents), or ご先祖 go-senzo (another's ancestors), or if talking to a person of high standing ご自分 go-jibun (their honorable self), but honestly there doesn't seem to be a hard-and-fast rule. After all, お is used for another's or one's own siblings and parents. ごねえさん or ごとうさん would be rather strange. I've asked several of my Japanese friends what the rule is and they said ぜんぜん分からない (I don't understand at all). It largely requires learning on a case by case basis.
The same character can also be pronounced おん but it's use is more archaic. Fortunately, one needn't worry much about it unless one is Christian because one of the ways we address God is 天の御父 ten no on-chichi, Heavenly Father.
親 (おや) is "parent(s)", but the compound 両親 (りょうじん) means "pair of parents" -- so not just any (two) parents but the two parents of a (specific) child. In the first case the kunyomi (native Japanese) pronounciation is used, while in the latter -- since it is a compound -- the onyomi (borrowed Chinese) pronounciation is used.
りょうしんはげんき？/両親は元気? also works for informal situations. Over time of observing Japanese, I've realized that they often exclude most particles.
Like これはなんですか？/これは何ですか? ｗhich can said like これ何？何これ？、これは何？、and (I think) 何だこれ？
Either way, I think it's best to learn the basics of the language first, before you really get into the formalities. From what I heard, even many Japanese people themselves don't like to constantly speak in formal Japanese (what they call ’Keigo', by the way. けいご is using 'です' and 'ます' as apposed to 'る' )
Unless they're around superiors like bosses or something, they'd rather speak in the way that comes more naturally to them, and that typically involves dropping particles like desu/masu or even を.
Of course, it does still depend. Be very careful.
Also, there is a common saying that Japanese don't use question marks, but that is only true to an extent. According to a Japanese man himself, many Japanese DO still use question marks(even if it's not required) simply because it makes it easier to recognize it as a question. I have heard that textbooks don't use question marks, but other that than, it's probably better to use them.