A field survey on honorific expressions was carried out at Nezu area and Nishikata area in Tokyo in 1981. The two areas are located near to each other, but they differ greatly in appearance. According to the informants' consciousness, Nezu area is regarded as the traditional downtown shopping district (“shitamachi”) and Nishikata area as the uptown more residential section (“yamanote”). The field survey showed that people in both areas differ in their educational level, occupation, and income. Consequently, the two areas can be distinguished not by geography but by the social class of the residents, at least in contemporary Tokyo:“shitamachi” can be regarded as lower class residential and “yamanote” as middle class. A difference in honorific usage was also observed between the two areas. Residents of Nishikata area use more polite forms, whatever the situation, than those of Nezu area. This implies that the function of honorific expressions is not only to show respect to someone else but also to display the speaker's own dignity.
The theoretical framework of the present study was originally proposed by Mc Carthy (1979), which was further developed by Halle & Vergnaud (1980) and Clements & Keyser (1981). The underlying assumption of the theory is that a phonological or morphological representation is not linear but “tiered” or “dimensional” in the sense that there is an autonomous segmental level called CV-slot (or prosodic template, to use Mc Carthy's terminology), which is independent of a phonological level, in line with the autosegmental theory. This paper will present a description of the morpho-phonological phenomena called “ONBIN” with special reference to past tense formation of verbs. I will focus my attention on the issues of (i) how a CV-slot level and phonological level are related;(ii) how the process of “ONBIN” is described in terms of the theory adopted here;(iii) how a dialectal variation of “ONBIN” is systematically accounted for. Furthermore the present paper attempts to shed new light on the treatment of so called “consonantal morae” in relation to syllable template in Japanese. The conclusion is that the representational apparatus of the multi-tiered theory of phonology is able to give some insight into Japanese phonology and morphology.