Why is it okay to use otoosan to describe your own father?

Generally, the Japanese avoid polite language when describing their own things, companies, relations etc, as in go-kazoku for someone else’s family and kazoku for my own, and not using -san to describe people who I am associated with, let alone myself. In the most common way to say “my/ our father” (“uchi no otoosan“), however, you use both –san (Mr/ Sir) and o– (honorific prefix), showing a shocking pride in your own flesh and blood! Indeed, until comparatively recently you could call him otoosan to his face but were supposed to refer to your own old man as chichi when speaking to others (and ditto for okaasan and haha for mothers). Somewhere along the way, though, that became rare, and a couple of years ago I saw on the news that whoever is in charge of such things had officially announced that it was okay to talk about “uchi no otoosan“, and nowadays “uchi no chichi” is super-polite, and possibly even a bit effeminate from a man.

The same thing is also true for humble ways of talking about your own wife, with “gusai” (smelly wife) unfortunately almost disappeared and “okusan” almost as acceptable as “tsuma” when talking about your better half.

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