In the "old days" (say in classical chinese
2000+ years ago but even persisting to novels written today as well as when you are being polite ) there were more honorifics than there are today. These were real
honorifics in Chinese, they had different connotations to them and varying levels of respect for different people. You can find these honorifics in books like the Analects of Confucius
. For example, a vassal
addressing his ruler would call his ruler "jun" while the ruler would call his vassal "chen". That said, I agreee with myrmidion that titles in modern mandarin
like laoshi, xiansheng and taitai are not really honorifics in the same sense that saying "san" in Japanese
is an honorific.
It is definitely true that people have different ways and conventions of speaking if they are being extra-polite. Whereas one normally would say "wo" you say "zai xia" or "ben ren" - this language is quite extensive- this is the sort of language that one would hear in kung-fu movies (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragonfor example)set in classical times. These forms are not true honorifics, but simply more polite forms of the normal pronouns and introductory questions.