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Suzanne Aalberse & Wessel Stoop (Nijmegen)

The exceptional loss of the stable pronoun du

Tu is stable

There are various ways to calculate the stability of a word.  A widespread and popular list used is the Swadesh list. More recent variants include Tadmor, Haspelmath & Taylor (2010) and Holman et al. (2008). In all these lists the non-polite singular pronoun for the second person (TU in terms of Brown & Gilman 1960) is in the top 10 of most stable words. Stability of the second person pronoun is expected. Whereas polite pronouns are need replacement if they become too common or too widespread and lose their identity marking function (Listen 1999) the non-polite pronoun is generally very robust. The stability of the second person singular non-polite pronoun holds for the Indo-European language family and for non Indo-European language families. The word is not generally borrowed or renewed. Yet there are two Indo-European languages that have lost their second person singular pronoun, namely English (loss of thou) and Dutch (loss of du).

Account for rareness

There are many explanations for the loss of English thou and Dutch du. Some of these explanations are sociolinguistic (e.g. Wales 1996, Vermaas 2002) and others more formally oriented (e.g. Postma 2011). Most of the explanations are almost too convincing. After reading the explanations you would expect the loss to happen frequently whereas in fact the change is rare. The first important claim in this talk is that anyone who explains the loss of du in Dutch and thou in English should account both for the fact that the pronoun was lost and for the fact that the change is generally rare.

Combination of circumstances

We propose an account that meets these two requirements of explaining why the loss occurred and why the loss is so rare. We claim that  Dutch du and thou in English were lost due to an exceptional combination of circumstances, namely immigration (1),  power relations (2) and the coincidence of a polite inflectional marker that is homophonous with singular inflection (3). Some of the circumstances were true for other European languages, but the combination of circumstances is unique to English and Dutch. We support our claim with an analysis of 24.433 terms of address in 13th and 16th century Dutch texts.


Brown, Roger & Albert Gilman. 1960. The pronouns of power and solidarity. In Sebeok, T. A. (ed.), Style in Language. Cambridge: MIT press. 253-76. Listen, Paul. 1999. The Emergence of German Polite. Berkeley: Peter Lang Publishing. Postma, G.J. 2011. 'Het verval van het pronomen du - dialect geografie en historische syntaxis'. Nederlandse Taalkunde: 16, 56-87. Tadmor, Uri, Martin Haspelmath & Bradley Taylor. 2010. Borrowability and the notion of basic vocabulary. Diachronica  27(2), 226-246 (special issue with the papers from the 2009 Swadesh Centennial Conference, edited by Anthony Grant and Søren Wichmann. Vermaas, Hanny. 2002. Veranderingen in de Nederlandse aanspreekvormen van de dertiende t/m de twintigste eeuw. Utrecht: LOT dissertation series. Wales, Katie. 1996. Personal Pronouns in Present-day English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Susan Meredith Burt (Illinois)

Researching Address Terms in a Community of Practice

One way that communities with status or power hierarchies can mark hierarchical relationships is by means of address. In dialects of Standard English, neither second person pronouns nor verbal inflections convey the social relational information conveyed by means of T/V choice in related languages.  Yet, in an academic community of practice, members are aware of both hierarchy and social distance, and deploy address terms for the relational work of indicating both.

Other members, however, may prefer address terms that reflect imagined or preferred social distance or social meanings other than the classic power-solidarity semantic of Brown and Gilman (1960).  This paper reports on research within an academic unit in an American university, in which members of different “ranks,” undergraduate, graduate student, and faculty, participated in focus group interviews (see Clyne, Norrby and Warren 2009) on the topic of address term preferences. Results from these focus groups show that university faculty, graduate students and undergraduates have different communicative and relational interests in choosing address terms for others and deciding which address terms they prefer for themselves. For example, faculty are concerned with establishing appropriate social distance with students.  While faculty are often willing to make their address preferences clear, both undergraduate and graduate students find faculty preferences less than transparent. Since undergrads are concerned with finding titles appropriate in their new community, they may import titles used for faculty in high schools.  Graduate students, including those from outside the US,face perhaps the most difficult situation, needing to negotiate address term preferences with their own undergraduate students as well as with faculty. Different interpretations of titles like Ms. and Professor contribute to the difficulty of address decisions for all three groups.

In a hierarchy like that of the academic world, it is not surprising that choice of address terms is complex, since speakers choose them to mark not only preferred relationship types with other members, but also attitudes toward the hierarchy itself. What the data show is that not only is there internal variation in what preferences are in all three “ranks” represented in the focus group interviews, but also that the terms themselves have varying and changing interpretations. For example, most faculty interpret Ms. as a term parallel to Mr., one which designates gender but not marital status (as in Fuller 2005). In contrast, judging from both graduate and undergraduate student groups, all three female courtesy titles are age-graded, with Miss for the very young, Ms. for young adults, and Mrs. for the clearly superannuated over 50.  Professor and Doctor emerge as terms whose usage differs both within and between departments and disciplines. If faculty are seen by students as unable or unwilling to come up with consistent and transparent address practices, it is not surprising that students import address habits from other settings, develop their own default rules, or wish for address reform in academe.


Brown, Roger & Albert Gilman.  1960.  The Pronouns of Power and Solidarity.  In Thomas A. Sebeok (ed.), Style in Language.  Cambridge, MA: Technology Press. Clyne, Michael , Catrin Norrby & Jane Warren.  2009.  Language and Human Relations: Styles of address in contemporary language.  Cambridge: CUP. Fuller, Janet M.  2005.  The uses and meanings of the female title Ms.  American Speech 80,2, 180-206.


Monica Chavez (Hong Kong)

The I in Interaction: Self-mentions and addressee features in academic writing

Academic writing has been typically labelled as impersonal and objective; however, recently there has been a shift in the way academic communication is perceived, defining it as a social activity in disciplinary communities and cultures. The term discourse community in this social view of writing is used to refer to a group of people with particular interests and common goals in those areas of interest. Intercommunication among the members of a discourse community is usually achieved through certain defined genres in order to achieve its goals (Swales, 1990): for instance, the research article (RA), which has been considered a highly valued genre in the intercommunication of discourse community’s members (Johns & Swales, 2004). As a result of this social view of academic discourse and the role of different genres in discourse community intercommunication, there has been an increasing interest in the study of self as author (Ivanič, 1998), focusing on the way writers represent themselves in texts (Hyland, 2002; Harwood, 2005b), and how writers interact with readers (Kuo, 1999; Tang and John, 1999; Starfield and Ravelli, 2006). Additionally, authorial presence has been analysed across languages (Vassileva, 1998; Sheldon, 2009; Molino, 2010) and across sections of the research article (Harwood, 2005a; Martinez, 2005; Mur Duenas, 2007).

This study explores pronominal discourse functions in a corpus of 60 research articles in the fields of applied linguistics, psychology and educational research in English and Spanish. Drawing on Tang and John’s (1999) taxonomy I elaborate and refine their categories, and propose I as the Interpreter as a new occurring role in the continuum of writers’ authorial presence. This role represents the writers’ interpretation of their results, where their expertise in the field is expressed. The analysis of items revealed some similarities but also some differences in the frequency and distribution of items in both languages and across sections. One shared feature is that English and Spanish writers make relatively extensive use of exclusive signals, especially in terms of signalling their role as recounters of the research process. However, they differ in that Spanish writers exhibit more local patterns of signalling their presence and their interaction with the reader. Also, the distribution of pronominal discourse functions across sections has revealed the linguistic choices writers make in a specific section of the research article. Finally, this study suggests some implications for teaching the strategic use of pronouns in academic writing in English and Spanish academic writing courses.


Harwood, N. 2005a. 'Nowhere has anyone attempted… In this article I aim to do just that’. A corpus based study of self-promotional I and we in academic writing across four disciplines. Journal of Pragmatics, 37 (8), 1207-1231. Harwood, N. 2005b. ‘I hoped to counteract the memory problem, but I made no impact whatsoever’: Discussing methods in computing science using I. English for Specific Purposes, 24 (3), 243-267. Hyland, K. 2002. Authority and invisibility: Authorial identity in academic writing. Journal of Pragmatics, 34 (8), 1091-1112. Ivanič, R. 1998. Writing and identity: The discoursal construction of identity in academic writing. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Kuo, C.H. 1999. The use of personal pronouns: Role relationships in scientific journal articles. English for Specific Purposes, 18 (2), 121-38. Martinez, I. A. 2005. Native and non native writers’ use of first person pronouns in the different sections of biology research articles in English. Journal of Second Language Writing, 14 (3), 174-190. Molino, A. 2010. Personal and impersonal authorial references: A contrastive study of English and Italian Linguistics research articles. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 9 (2), 86-101. Mur-Dueñas, P. 2007. ‘I/we focus on’: A cross-cultural analysis of self-mentions in business management research articles. Journal of English for Academic Purposes 6, 143-162. Sheldon, E. 2009. From one I to another: Discursive construction of self-representation in English and Castilian Spanish research articles. English for Specific Purposes, 28 (4), 251-261. Starfield, S. & L. J. Ravelli . 2006. ‘The writing of this thesis was a process that I could not explore with the positivistic detachment of the classical sociologist’: Self and structure in New Humanities research theses. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 5 (3), 222-243. Swales, J.M. 1990. Genre Analysis: English in academic and research settings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Swales, J. 2004. Research genres: Explorations and applications. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tang, R., & S. John. 1999. The I in identity:  Exploring writer identity in student academic writing through first person pronoun. English for Specific Purposes, 18 (1), 23-39. Vassileva, I. 1998. Who am I / who are we in academic writing? A contrastive analysis of authorial presence in English, German, French, Russian and Bulgarian. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 8 (2), 163-90.


Maicol Formentelli  (Eastern Piedmont)

Vocatives galore in audiovisual dialogue: Evidence from a corpus of American and British films

Vocatives are a pervasive feature of spoken language and a major strategy in the address repertoire of English for the codification of social and conversational roles, and the expression of interpersonal relationships (Braun 1988; Leech 1999; Clyne et al. 2009). Recent studies have outlined the prominence of vocatives as markers of orality in audiovisual dialogue and the diegetic and extradiegetic functions they serve for the advancement of the plot and the involvement of viewers (cf. Bruti and Perego 2008; Kozloff 2000; Quaglio 2009).

The present paper explores the use of vocatives in English films by comparing film dialogues with spontaneous spoken English. The main categories of vocatives are considered, namely first names, surnames, kinship terms, honorifics, familiarizers, endearments and insults (Biber et al. 1999: 1108-1109). The main aim is to assess how the address strategies most commonly employed by English speakers are reproduced on screen, trying to identify aspects of language that can be regarded as distinctive traits of film talk. This is felt to be particularly important given the crucial role played by audiovisual media in contemporary society and the impact they may have on people’s perception of language use and human relations.

The study is based on data from the Pavia Corpus of Film Dialogue (ca. 260,000 tokens), which includes 24 American and British films produced from 1995 and 2009. The corpus was designed with a focus on highly dialogic films featuring characters of various social backgrounds and several interactional domains (Freddi and Pavesi 2009) to offer a comprehensive picture of language use in contemporary filmic speech. Data on the use of vocatives in spontaneous conversation are drawn from the British National Corpus and from previous corpus-based studies on American and British English.

Preliminary results reveal a marked quantitative divergence between film talk and spontaneous speech, with audiovisual dialogue showing a significant higher frequency of forms across different categories of vocatives. This may be explained by recalling the specificities of the audiovisual mode and to the role of vocatives in enhancing spectators’ cathartic participation and emotional adherence. From a qualitative point of view, the analysis of brief extracts of film dialogue confirms the great flexibility of vocatives in the expression of interpersonal meanings, which encompass positive feelings of respect, friendship and affection, and negative attitudes of aggressiveness, hostility and contempt. Finally, instances of sociolinguistic variation in address practice are found in the vocatives chosen by scriptwriters for the stereotypical characterization of members of specific social classes (e.g. the extensive use of mate on the part of British working-class speakers) and ethnic groups (e.g. the vocatives dawg, bro and man in the African-American community).


Biber Douglas, Stig Johansson, Geoffrey Leech, Susan Conrad & Edward Finegan. 1999. Longman grammar of spoken and written English. Harlow, UK: Pearson. Braun, Frederike. 1988. Terms of Address: Problems of patterns and usage in various languages and cultures. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter. Bruti, Silvia & Elisa Perego. 2008. Vocatives in subtitles. A survey across genres. In Christopher Taylor (ed.), Ecolingua. The role of E-corpora in translation and language learning. Trieste: EUT. 11-51. Clyne, Michael, Catrin Norrby & Jane Warren. 2009. Language and human relations. Styles of address in contemporary language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Freddi Maria & Maria Pavesi. 2009. The Pavia Corpus of Film Dialogue: Research rationale and methodology. In Maria Freddi & Maria Pavesi (eds.), Analysing audiovisual dialogue. Linguistic and translational insights. Bologna: CLUEB. 95-100. Kozloff, Sarah. 2000. Overhearing film dialogue. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Leech, Geoffrey. 1999. The distribution and function of vocatives in American and British English conversation. In Hilde Hasselgård & Signe Oksefjell (eds.), Out of corpora. Studies in honour of Stig Johansson. Amsterdam: Rodopi. 107-118. Quaglio, Paulo. 2009. Television dialogue: The sitcom Friends vs. natural conversation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


Ana Guilherme

The pronoun Vós in the history of European Portuguese

The study of the address forms in Portuguese began thirty years ago with an innovative monograph by Lindley Cintra (1972/1986). After this, however, the subject seems only to have raised interest in Brazil (ex: Faraco 1996, Lopes e Duarte 2004, Lopes 2006). In the case of contemporary European Portuguese society, the case is frequently made for a sociological and linguistic approach to its address systems (Gouveia 2008), but the subject still lacks empirical work.

The diachronic study carried out by Cintra (1986), though groundbreaking and extremely important, isn’t enough to gain a better knowledge of the synchronic address system in European Portuguese. This is because the address system is complex, with such complexity recognised by the author, who had, necessarily, to restrict its study (1986:11).

With this presentation, I intend to resume, at least modestly, the study of the address system in European Portuguese, from a diachronic perspective. I will give special emphasis to the personal pronoun Vós (“You”, second person plural), which disappeared as a way of addressing a single speaker. This option is related to my PhD research: it deals with the hypothetical connection between the disappearance of Vós and a change undergone by verbal morphology. Indeed, second person plural forms of verbs in the past tense are losing, in non-standard Portuguese, the plural value, thus agreeing with the second person singular pronoun Tu (vós fizestes > tu fizestes, instead of the older tu fizeste).

According to Cintra (1986:17), the pronoun Vós had a twofold purpose because it was used both for a unique speaker as a form of politeness and for multiple speakers as a form of informality. The author claims that, during the 18th century (Cintra 1986:29), the pronoun began to be employed for a single speaker even in contexts of familiarity. Thus, for this author, the 18th century marks the beginning of the decay of Vós (Cintra 1986:29). The pronoun gains: um sabor arcaizante e um tanto ridículo da fala de pessoas velhas ou provincianas(1) (Cintra 1986:30).

For this presentation, I will use a corpus of 3,500 private letters written between1500 and 1974 by people from all social backgrounds, such as, for example, a letter by Helena Costa, written to her husband in 1654, complaining about his absence: (...) tam desconsolada vibo e sem novas vosas muito mais magimando que bos esquecias de mim (...)(2). Letters are a fundamental source for linguistics, as they can reveal many aspects of language usage absent from the literary or institutional discourse. For instance, in this excerpt, the author writes vós with <b> because betacismo is a phonological feature in dialects of the north. Also, because these kinds of private documents reflect language in a historical context, they become extremely important for an analysis of pragmatic phenomena, such as the address forms, being as they are fundamental structures for the understanding of the social and cultural relations between participants in communicative acts (Blum-Kulka 2005).


(1) This pronoun gains “an archaic and somewhat ridiculous flavour in the speech of old or provincial people”, my translation.

(2) so afflicted that I live and without any news from you imagining that you forgot me”, my translation.


Blum-Kulka, Shoshana. 2005. Pragmática del discurso. In Teun A. Van Dijk (ed.), El Discurso como Interacción Social. Barcelona: Gedisa. 67-101. Cintra, Luís Filipe Lindley. 1972/1986. Sobre formas de tratamento na língua portuguesa. Lisboa: Livros Horizonte. Faraco, Carlos Alberto. 1996. O tratamento VOCÊ em português: uma abordagem histórica. Fragmenta 13, 51-82. Gouveia, Carlos. 2008. As dimensões da mudança no uso das formas de tratamento em português europeu. In  F. Oliveira & I. M. Duarte (eds.), O Fascínio da Linguagem: Actas do Colóquio de Homenagem a Fernanda Irene Fonseca. Porto: CLUP/FLUP. 91-99. Lopes, Célia Regina dos Santos. 2006. Correlações histórico-sociais e lingüísticodiscursivas das formas de tratamento em textos escritos no Brasil - séculos XVIII e XIX. In Guiomar Ciapuscio et al. (eds.), Sincronia y diacronia: de tradiciones discursivas en Latinoamérica. Frankfurt: Vervuert/Bibliotheca Ibero- Americana.187-214. Lopes, Célia Regina dos Santos & Maria Eugenia Lamoglia Duarte. 2004. De  ́Vossa Mercê ́ a  ́Você’: análise da pronominalização de nominais em peças brasileiras e portuguesas setecentistas e oitocentistas. In Silvia Figueiredo Brandao & Maria Antónia Mota (eds.), Análise Contrastiva de Variedades do Português: Primeiros Estudos. Rio de Janeiro: In-fólio. 61-76.


Kris Helincks (Ghent)

¿Oye huevón, cachaste que huevón más huevón es ese huevón, huevón? The particular meanings and uses of the nominal term of address huevón in Chile

This paper concerns an exploratory study of the characteristic use of the nominal term of address (ToA) huevón in Chilean Spanish. It is well known that the Chilean variety comprises a particular set of ToAs. On the one hand, it contains three pronominal and verbal forms, i.e. ustedeo, tuteo and voseo, which currently experience a linguistic change with an increasing use of ‘cultivated voseo’ (Torrejon 1986) resulting in complex sociolinguistic and pragmatic variability. This evolution has newly prompted some sociolinguistic studies supplying the first systematic and empirically well-based data on the use and social acceptance of ‘dialectal’ voseo vs. ‘normative’ tuteo (Stevenson 2007, Rivadeneira 2009, Bishop & Michnowicz 2010, Torrejón 2010, Helincks 2012). On the other hand, Chilean Spanish also particularizes some nominal ToAs. In general, few linguistic studies have paid attention to nominal titles. Nevertheless, they could provide interesting broadening findings on the use of ToA in general, for example on (a) their specific relational and communicative values, useful for politeness research, (b) their frequency against and interplay with pronominal and verbal terms, or (c) different forms and uses among the Spanish varieties.

Chile marks unique uses of nominal ToAs such as tío and huevón (or weón). Especially the latter, an insulting form, typifies oral Chilean Spanish and signals a range of peculiar features. However, no scientific study has ever focused on this phenomenon. In my opinion, this has led to deficient interpretations of the use of huevón -and consequently, Chilean speech in general- in relation to politeness in at least two rare studies that comment on this title, Abelda Marco (2007), and Hernes (2011). Based on own initial observations, I suggest that the meaning of Chilean huevón highly depends on the context, i.e. the informality of the situation, the relationship of the interlocutors, as well as its pronunciation and intonation and its function and place in the sentence. Finally, it has developed several derivational meanings and uses (e.g. as adjective, verb, expletive).

In this fundamental study on the term huevón in Chilean Spanish, I will combine a descriptive and empirical approach. On the one hand, its etymology, general Hispanic distribution, and meanings and uses in Chile will be considered. On the other hand, through an exploratory corpus analyse, I will investigate the use of the form in relation to situational and sociolinguistic factors, as well as its correlation with the use of the three pronominal and verbal Chilean ToAs. Since the term is extremely frequent in Chilean speech, a better understanding of its use and meaning is primordial for any scientific study that examines oral Chilean language.  


Albelda Marco, M. 2007. Atenuantes en Chile y en España: distancia o acercamiento. In A. Briz, A. Hidalgo, M. Albelda, J. Contreras & N. Hernández Flores (eds.), Cortesía y conversación: de lo escrito a lo oral. III Coloquio Internacional del Programa EDICE. Valencia/Estocolmo: Universidad de Valencia, Programa EDICE. 98-113. Bishop, K. & J. Michnowicz. 2010. Forms of Address in Chilean Spanish. Hispania 93, 3, 413-429. Helincks, K. 2012. La variación social y estilística del voseo chileno en diferentes géneros televisivos. Revista internacional de lingüística iberorrománica 19, 185-211. Hernes, S. 2011. El uso de palabras tabúes en el lenguaje juvenil de Santiago de Chile y Oslo. Un estudio contrastivo. Master’s Thesis. Universitetet i Bergen. Rivadeneira, M. 2009. El voseo en medios de comunicación de Chile. Descricpión y análisis de la variación dialectal y funcional. PhD-dissertation. Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Stevenson, J. 2007. The sociolinguistic variables of Chilean voseo. PhD-dissertation. University of Washington. Torrejón, A. 1986. Acerca del Voseo Culto de Chile. Hispania 69, 3, 677-683. Torrejón, A. 2010. Nuevas observaciones sobre el voseo en el español de Chile. In M. Hummel, B. Kluge & M.E. Vázquez Laslop (eds.), Formas y fórmulas de tratamiento en el mundo hispánico. México D.F./Graz: El Colegio de México/Karl Franzens Universität. 755-770.


Johanna Isosävi & Hanna Lappalainen (Helsinki)

Addressing cultures in conflict? Usage of first names in service encounters

The majority of earlier research on addressing has concentrated on attitudes towards current practices or the conceptions the speakers have of their own language use. Instead, we know less how address forms are used in reality or how the usage and attitudes are related to each other. Our paper presents a case study in which these both perspectives are present.

Our study deals with the usage of first names and attitudes related to it in the American coffee house chain Starbucks. Unlike in many other languages and cultures, first names are only rarely used in Finnish when addressing interlocutors. Consequently, when Starbucks opened its first café in Finland in May 2012, it was mentioned in the media that according to the service concept of the coffee house, the clients were asked to give their name when making an order.

In our study, we have approached addressing in Starbucks from different perspectives and by analysing data from several sources. The starting point of the study was an Internet discussion followed by a newspaper article. In addition, we provoked a discussion by writing a blog and doing inquires in Facebook. The data collected in the media have been compared with ethnographic observations in authentic service encounters and interviews with waitresses and clients. By comparing the data, we can see both similarities and dissimilarities in the justifications of negative and positive arguments towards the use of the first name. The main arguments are related to cultural differences between American and Finnish service cultures. The discourse is analysed within the framework of language ideologies. The Finnish case study has been complemented by a contrasting part in France which opens up a cross-cultural dimension.


Bettina Kluge (Bremen / Bielefeld)

'Shining through' effects of pronominal and nominal address in a translational corpus

While the general scientific literature concerning terms of address is vast and still burgeoning, there is an astonishing lack of accounts how forms of address are translated. Also, most studies are not corpus-based and focus on pronominal address, to the detriment of nominal address. Translation studies have repeatedly shown that, in translated texts, the source language 'shines through' (Teich 2003) on the morphological and syntactic levels. In my talk – based on a corpus of literary translations of German, French, and Spanish contemporary authors – I will present evidence in support of Berger's (2005) and Nord's (2007) observation that nominal address, in fact, closely follows the source language's terms of address. For pronominal address, however, the target language's address norms appear to be more important, and no shining through-effect was observed. Building on these insights, I will then propose a systematic account of the strategies of translations followed.


Berger, Tilman. 2005. Zur Problematik der Übersetzung pronominaler und nominaler Anredeformen. In Kempgen, Sebastian (ed.), Slavistische Linguistik 2003. München: Otto Sagner. 9-35. Nord, Christiane. 2007. Ja, mein Herr – o nein, Señorito. Vom Umgang mit Anredeformen in literarischen Übersetzungen aus dem Spanischen. In Martina Emsel & Juan Cuartero Otal (eds.), Brücken. Über­setzen und Interkulturelle Kommunikation. Festschrift für Gerd Wotjak zum 65. Geburtstag. Band 2. Frankfurt: Peter Lang. 269-282. Teich, Elke. 2003. Cross-linguistic variation in system and text: a methodology for the investigation of translations and comparable texts. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.


Heinz L. Kretzenbacher, Agnese Bresin, John Hajek & Robert Lagerberg  (Melbourne)

Address forms in language contact and language conflict: German Sie and onikanje in some Slavic languages

The use of the grammatical 3rd p.pl, as V address form (or “2nd person honorative”, cf. Simon 2003: 158-187) is a rather specific German development that has been well researched in its diachronic development (e.g. Listen 1999; Simon 2003; 2007). Apart from Modern Bavarian (which is arguably a regional variety of Modern High German), only a few neighbouring languages, such as Danish, Czech, Slovak, Slovene, and some dialects of Polish have borrowed this German V address.

This paper deals with diachronic and synchronic sociolinguistic aspects of Slavic borrowings of the German V address form. In the course of developing Slavic nationalisms during the 19th century, such forms (here generally referred to with the Slovene term onikanje, but specifically called onikání in Czech and onikanie in Slovak), was increasingly considered to be “German” and therefore “un-Slavic” and grammars encouraged speakers to use the “indigenous Slavic” form of the 2nd p. pl. as V address. This was particularly the case in Czech (cf. Betsch 2000), where linguistic nationalism, hand in hand with political nationalism, was particularly strong in the context of a painfully perceived disadvantage of Czechs within the Austrian (and from 1867, Austro-Hungarian) Empire during the 19th century. However, other languages, such as Slovene (cf. Reindl 2008: 166-167), went through a similar development. Today, most sources describe onikanje as mostly “eroded” and only surviving in very rural or conservative contexts.

In this paper, we will study the development of onikanje as an example of linguistic purism as a consequence of linguistic and cultural contact and conflict, describe the different morpho-syntactic and sociolinguistic developments the borrowed form took on in different Slavic languages, and report on first empirical data  - rather rare in the existing literature (one of the few exceptions being Sedláková 2011 for Slovak) - on to what extent onikanie/onikanie is still surviving in languages such as Slovene and Slovak.


Betsch, Michael. 2000. Diskontinuität und Tradition im System der tschechischen Anredepronomina (1700-1850). München: Otto Sagner. Listen, Paul. 1999. The emergence of German polite Sie: cognitive and sociolinguistic parameters. New York: Peter Lang. Reindl, Donald F. 2008. Language contact, German and Slovenian. Bochum: Brockmeyer. Sedláková, Marianna. 2011. Sociolingvistická sonda do používania honoratívu v bežnej komunikácii v slovenčine [Sociolinguistic study of the use of honorific in common communication in Slovak]. In Jana Pekarovičová, Miloslav Vojtech & Eva Španová  (eds.), Prednášky XLVII. letnej školy slovenského jazyka a kultúry. Bratislava: Univerzita Komenského Bratislava. 267-275. Simon, Horst J. 2003. Für eine grammatische Kategorie 'Respekt' im Deutschen: Synchronie, Diachronie und Typologie der deutschen Anredepronomina, Tübingen: Niemeyer. Simon, Horst J. 2007. Wie Höflichkeit die Person(en) verwirrt – und wie's die Grammatik wieder ordnet. In Irmtraud Behr, Anne Larrory & Gunhild Samson (eds.), Der Ausdruck der Person im Deutschen. Tübingen: Stauffenburg. 57–72.


Heinz L. Kretzenbacher, John Hajek (Melbourne) & Catrin Norrby (Stockholm)

Address and introduction in German and English in an intercultural academic setting

The way we address one another in first encounters and how we introduce ourselves and others is fundamental in marking social relationships and sometimes involves careful consideration and even agonising.

While there are a number of studies on address in intercultural communication in the workplace (such as Okamura 2009) and more specifically in academia (such as Clyne 2009, Formentelli 2009 and Economidou-Kogetsidis 2011), the ongoing Melbourne/Stockholm project on address and introduction at international conferences appears to be the first of its kind. In previous studies, we found marked differences in reported address and introduction patterns depending on the language background of the speaker (Kretzenbacher, Clyne, Hajek, Norrby & Warren, forthc.) and varying address and introduction practices, not only depending on the first language of the speaker, but also on which national variety of this first language he or she is a speaker of (Kretzenbacher, Hajek & Norrby in press).

This paper focusses on speakers of German as L1 and their introduction behaviour at international conferences, both in their L1 German and in English as a lingua franca at international conferences. The English introduction behaviour of German L1 speakers is compared to that of L1 speakers of several national varieties of English. Our results indicate that German speakers often behave differently in introductions, depending on whether speaking their L1 German or their L2 English. They tend to over-generalise what they perceive as a rather informal way of addressing and introducing in English and to be more informal than many native speakers of English in introductions at international conferences when using English as a lingua franca.


Clyne, Michael. 2009. Address in intercultural communication across languages. Intercultural Pragmatics 6.3, 395-409. Formentelli, Maicol. 2009. Address strategies in a British academic setting. Pragmatics 19.2, 179-196. Economidou-Kogetsidis, Maria. 2011. Please answer me as soon as possible’. Pragmatic failure in non-native speakers’ e-mail requests to faculty. Journal of Pragmatics 43.13, 3193–3215. Kretzenbacher, Heinz L.,Michael Clyne, Michael, John Hajek, Catrin Norrby & Jane Warren. forthc. Meet and greet. Address and introductions in intercultural communication at international conferences. In John Hajek & Yvette Slaughter (eds.), Challenging the Monolingual Mindset. Kretzenbacher, Heinz L., John Hajek & Catrin Norrby. In press. Address and introduction across two pluricentric languages in intercultural communication. In Carla Amorós Negre, Rudolf Muhr, Carmen Fernández Juncal, Klaus Zimmermann, Emilio Prieto & Natividad Hernández (eds.), Exploring linguistic standards in non-dominant varieties of pluricentric languages / Explorando estándares lingüísticos en variedades no dominantes de lenguas pluricéntricas, Wien etc.: Peter Lang (ca. 2013). Okamura, Akiko. 2009. Do English speakers address their Japanese colleagues by their first name, while talking in English in Japan? Multilingua 28.4, 355–377.


Hanna Lappalainen (Helsinki)

T- or V-form or both of them? Variation in Finnish service encounters

The address pronoun system in Finnish comprises sinä (less formal, T) and te (more formal, V). In addition to these pronouns, the person is expressed through verbal person marking (sinä luet, te luette ‘you read’) and possessive suffixes (sinun talosi, teidän talonne ‘your house’). Pronouns can be dropped out when the person appears in verb inflection or possessive suffixes (luet, talonne).

The norms of Finnish addressing changed radically in the end of the 1960s: the use of the T-forms (sinä) replaced the use of the V-forms (te) in many contexts, e.g. in service encounters. However, during the last decades, the development has been partly controversial. Recent research concerning attitudes towards  the practices or the conceptions the speakers have of their own language use show that the norms of addressing are complicated. However, we know less how address forms are used in reality.

My study focuses on the variation between T (fi. sinä) and V (fi. te) forms in service encounters collected in the Social Insurance Institution of Finland called “Kela”. I will show that the age of the client is the main factor explaining variation: generally speaking, young clients are addressed with T-forms and old clients with V-forms. However, the middle-aged are addressed with both forms – even during the same conversation. The detailed analysis reveals that this type of variation is not always a mark of incompetence of the speaker, but it can be used for strategic purposes or is motivated by the on-going activity. The methods of sociolinguistic variation analysis and conversation analysis are combined. The data consist of 77 service encounters video-taped at five Finnish Social Security offices situated in different parts of Finland, and 50 telephone calls tape-recorded at the Customer Contact Centre of the Social Insurance Institution. The research is related two projects investigating interactive practices in customer-service situations organized by the Institute for the Languages of Finland.


Célia Regina dos Santos Lopes, Leonardo Lennertz Marcotulio, Silvia Regina de Oliveira Cavalcante (Rio de Janeiro)

The changes in the address pronoun system in Brazilian Portuguese

Brazilian Portuguese presents variation between tu and você (“you-sg”) as forms of address constrained both by pragmatic and dialectal factors. Scherre et al (2009) correlate the variation in addressing forms with the agreement patterns in the verb (2nd / 3rd person) to propose six different sub-systems of pronominal address forms. In this paper, based on a historical sociolinguistic approach (HERNÁNDEZ-CAMPOY; CONDE-SILVESTRE, 2012), we propose three sub-systems of addressing forms, instead of six, by showing that the variation and change that appears in contemporary Brazilian Portuguese can be traced back to the 19th century. Furthermore, we bring an analysis of the embedding in the rearrangement of the pronominal system of Brazilian Portuguese after the rise of você (a grammaticalized form of Vossa Mercê) as a pronoun of address in the subject position by correlating the patterns of variation between tu and você with the variant forms in complement position:  accusative (te~você “you”), dative (te~para/a você “to you”), oblique (para ti~você “foryou”) and genitive (teu~seu “your”).

The data set for this analysis was extracted from the Diachronic Corpus of Private Letters (www.letras.ufrj.br/laborhistorico), which is composed of letters written from the 1850’s up to 1950’s in different regions of Brazil. We analyze the variation of the addressing forms tu and você in subject position and in complement position along the time considering both social and internal constraints for the variation and change.

The results concerning subject position show that between the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century, the form tu was more frequent in subject position, preferably as a null pronoun; whereas the rates of você were higher as a lexical pronoun. This behavior is different from the 1920’s on: the rates of tu as a lexical pronoun rise and the rates of você increase in the same contexts as tu. In complement position, however, the embedding of the change follows different paths, regarding the time considered: (1) the clitic te (you-ACC) is more frequent as both accusative and dative complements; however, between 1910 and 1920, while the rates of você increase in subject position, the rates of null complements are higher; (2) the rates of null dative complements are considerably higher in the letters that present a strong variation between tu and você (you-NOM); (3) the complement a ti (to you) is slowly replaced by the form para você (to you), mainly from the 1930's on; (4) in relation to the genitive form, the possessive pronoun teu (your) shows higher frequencies than the pronoun seu, what suggests the maintenance of the original second person paradigm. As we can see, the implementation of the grammaticalized form você (you-NOM) did not occur in the same way in the whole paradigm of second person addressing pronoun.


Scherre, M. M. P., N. N. G. Lucca, E. P. A. Dias, C. Q.  Martins & G. Ferreira. 2009. Usos dos pronomes você e tu no português brasileiro, Paper presented in II SIMELP, Universidade de Évora. Hernández-Campoy & Conde-Silvestre. 2012. The Handbook of Historical Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.


Christine Mertzlufft (Freiburg)

Address Pronouns in Swedish and German Bureaucratic Texts

Both the Swedish and German address system have two second person singular address pronouns: less formal du (sw.), du (germ.) and more formal ni (sw.), Sie (germ.) (cf. for German: Simon 2003, for Swedish: Bratt Paulston 1976). However, there are differences between the two languages which, especially in the context of bureaucratic texts, make a cross-linguistic comparison, interesting: On the one hand, the Swedish system du/ni is not as stable as the German one since both du and ni can be used as politeness-pronouns (Mårtensson 1986). On the other hand, the Swedish ni is not status-neutral and not accepted by all Swedes (Bratt Paulston 1976, Mårtensson 1986). In addition, two developments were observed for the Swedish system during the second half of the 20th century:

  1. A rapid shift to a universal use of du during the 1960s and 1970s (Mårtensson1987). As a result, du has been used even in official language (Mårtensson 1987, 1988). This development was interpreted as an intimisation or informalisation of the official language (Mårtensson 1987). The German (official) language hasn’t undergone a comparable change. Quite contrary to the Swedish official language, the German official language is often characterized by a high degree of impersonality and social distance with a lack of address pronouns (Becker- Mrotzek 1999).
  2.  An increased use of ni among younger people in order to express polite distance since the mid of the 1980s. As a result, ni has two kinds of connotations among younger and older speakers (polite vs. impolite, Mårtensson 1986).

An extensive corpus-based study which examines the development of the Swedish and German address forms in different text types from authorities hasn’t been undertaken so far. Moreover, the current state of affairs for Swedish address pronouns in official language is rather unclear. The present study aims to fulfill this academic void. In my talk, I will discuss my results from my corpus-based study in detail (the corpus consists of bureaucratic letters and brochures from 1950 untill today with totally 70- 100 letters and 10 brochures from each decade and language). In short, my results can be summarized as follows:

  •  The Swedish data reveal an increased use of du. However, ni has NOT been displaced by du.
  • Text type influences the choice of the Swedish address pronoun: In the letters ni is preferred in all decades, whereas in the brochures du is preferred. I argue that the use of du in the brochures can’t be interpreted as an indicator for an intimisation or informalisation because du is used generically in those texts.
  • In all decades there is a higher occurrence frequency of address pronouns in German letters and brochures than in the Swedish ones. I argue, in line with Norrby/Håkansson (2004), that the uncertainness when choosing the right pronoun in Swedish results in an avoidance of address pronouns. Thus, the German texts unexpectedly show a higher degree of social proximity than the Swedish texts.


Becker-Mrotzek, Michael. 1999. Die Sprache der Verwaltung als Institutionensprache. In Lothar Hoffmann (ed.), Fachsprachen: ein internationales Handbuch zur Fachsprachenforschung und Terminologiewissenschaft = Languages for special purposes. Berlin: de Gruyter (= Handbücher zur Sprach- und Kommunikationswissenschaft Bd. 14/2). 1391-1402. Bratt Paulston, Christina. 1976. Pronouns of address in Swedish: social class semantics and a changing system. Language in Society 1976/5, 359-386. Mårtensson, Eva. 1986. Det nya niandet. In Bengt Audén et al. (eds.), Fyra uppsatser.(=Nordlund 10). 35-79. Mårtensson, Eva. 1987. När myndigheterna blev du med oss. Om informaliseringen av det offentliga språket. In Eva Mårtensson & Cecilia Falk (eds.), Två uppsatser om språkbrukets informalisering. Lund: Institutionen för nordiska språk, Lunds universitet (= Nordlund 13). 25-78. Mårtensson, Eva. 1988. Den familjära myndigheten. Intimiseringen av det offentliga språket. In Orvar Löfgren (ed.), Hej, det är från försäkringskassan! Informaliseringen av Sverige. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur. 105-127. Norrby, Catrin & Gisela Håkansson. 2004. ”Kan jag hjälpa dig med något?” Om tilltal i en servicesitutaion. Språk och Stil 13, 5-34. Simon, Horst. 2003. Für eine grammatische Katgeorie >Respekt< im Deutschen. Synchronie, Diachronie und Typologie der deutschen Anredepronomen. Tübingen: Niemeyer.


Karolin Moser (Kassel)

Address terms in intercultural email communication: Argentinian Spanish and German in conflict

It is very interesting to analyse misunderstandings in email communication (often due to missing intonation) within the same speech community. But it is even more interesting to have a look at email interaction between cultures and languages that have developed different politeness systems, such as the Argentinian and the German society. Whereas German (as a Germanic language) seems to prefer rather negative politeness strategies, Argentinian Spanish (as a Romance language) works with rather positive politeness strategies, though recent studies point out that Argentinian culture is perhaps the less positive polite of the Hispano-American cultures.

This is a corpus-based study of email communication between teachers and students at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba (Argentina). The samples I collected from 2004 to 2009 consist of messages written in German or Spanish by students (L1 Spanish) to their German teachers.

The analyses show that a simple transposition of the Argentinian address system (for example, pronominal: singular informal: vos, formal usted, plural informal and formal: ustedes) to German Du / Sie, might express impoliteness because Argentinian vos can also function as German Sie, and the formal usted can be used in informal addressing as well. Address forms as profesor, profesora / Sehr geehrter Herr + surname / Sehr geehrte Frau + surname are part of openings (and closings), they also belong to certain text traditions. These have to be taken into account when producing formal, semiformal or informal emails. Spanish address pronouns can even change their grammatical function when used to mitigate orders or requests, as we see in Argentinian Spanish (and Costa Rican Spanish).



Brown, P. & S. Levison. 1987. Politeness: Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Dürscheid, Ch. & A. Ziegler (eds.). 2007. Kommunikationsform E-mail. Tübingen: Stauffenburg. Martins Meireles, S. 2002. Dissension and Face-work Strategies in German Dialogues. Tübingen: Niemeyer. Moser, K. 2006. La variación entre formas ustedeantes y voseantes a nivel del discurso familiar en la clase media y alta de San José - Costa Rica: ¿una estrategia de cortesía? In M. Schrader-Kniffki (ed.), La cortesía en el mundo hispánico: nuevos contextos, nuevos enfoques metodológicos. Frankfurt am Main & Madrid: Vervuert/ Iberoamericana, 97-116. Moser, K. 2011. Deixis personal en Costa Rica (San José) y Argentina (Córdoba): ustedeo versus voseo: ¿dos soluciones para el mismo sistema? In C. R. dos Santos Lopes & L. Reb Couto (eds.), As formas de tratamento em Português e em Espanhol: variação, mudança e funções conversacionais. Rio de Janeiro: Editora da Universidade Federal Fluminense, 437-454. Moser, K. 2011. Turn-talking im Argentinien­spanischen: eine unhöfliche Kommunikationsstrategie für den Deutsch-Muttersprachler? In C. Ehrhardt, E. Neuland & H. Yamashita (eds.), Sprachliche Höflichkeit zwischen Etikette und kommunikativer Kompetenz. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 269-285. Watts, R. 2003. Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Heiko Motschenbacher (Frankfurt)

Gentlemen Before Ladies? A Corpus-Based Study of Conjunct Order in Personal Binomials

The present study focuses on word order patterns in English personal binomials and argues that conjunct order in this binomial type is partly subject to other factors than those shown in earlier research on binomials in general. On the theoretical level, mixed-gender personal binomials are discussed as linguistic instantiations of dominance and difference thinking in relation to gender. On the empirical level, the paper presents an in-depth case study of personal binomials in the written component of the BNC. The factor with the highest impact on conjunct order is found to be lexical gender. Moreover, the modifying influence of a range of other factors is tested. Among these are factors that have proven relevant in earlier research on word order in binomials (phonology, orthography, conjunct frequency) as well as factors that have so far not or only sporadically been tested (lexical field, morphology, sex of author, target audience sex). Finally, the findings are related to more recent theoretical discussions of the relationship between language and gender.


Irene Moyna (Texas A&M)

Verbal voseo and tuteo in two Uruguayan cities

This study is part of a large-scale project on second person variation (, vos, usted) in Uruguayan Spanish (USp). It offers a quantitative comparison of verbal voseo and tuteo usage in Montevideo, the capital, and Paysandú, a city on the western border with Argentina. Voseo/tuteo variation was found to be minimal in the imperative, present indicative, and preterite, but very high in the present subjunctive. First, voseo forms were used over twice as frequently in Paysandú and with male addressees. Additionally, the semantics of the subjunctive (subordinate marker vs. negative imperative) had a large effect on verbal choice. The study thus justifies a fine-grained analysis to uncover subtle differences that may be present even in areas that share overall linguistic preferences.

In its small territory, Uruguay presents a complex system of informal address including voseo (VV), a hybrid combination (TV), and tuteo (TT) (Behares 1981, Bertolotti 2011, Bertolotti & Coll 2003, Elizaincín & Díaz 1979, 1981, Mendoza 2005, Moyna & Ceballos 2008, Rona 1967, Steffen 2010). Additionally, in voseo varieties the verbal paradigm is mixed. Thus, Montevideo speakers favor voseo imperative and present indicative (¡cantá! ‘sing!’, cantás ‘you sing’), but overwhelmingly prefer tuteo present subjunctive ([que] cantes ‘[that] you [may] sing’), whereas its voseo counterpart is restricted to impolite negative commands (¡no cantés, idiota! ‘don’t sing, you idiot!’) (Behares 1981, Fontanella de Weinberg 1979).

The main research question of this study is whether two voseante cities, Montevideo and Paysandú, exhibit any differences in their verbal paradigm. In order to find out, two balanced samples (Montevideo n=367, Paysandú n=62) completed a questionnaire that required them to choose responses for hypothetical situations (cf. (1)). Pairs of questionnaire items targeted the imperative, the present indicative, and the preterite, and three pairs of questions enquired about the present subjunctive in its various uses (subordinate, negative request, negative command). All items corresponded to informal relationships, and in the two questions about a given form, one addressee was male and the other female. Responses were tabulated, quantified, and compared to establish the effect of the independent variables of verb form, speaker provenance, and addressee gender.

In the imperative and present indicative, participants from both cities exhibited a virtually categorical preference for voseo (above 90%), and no differences by addressee gender. The preterite was only sensitive to provenance: whereas tuteo (cantaste ‘you sang’) was preferred overall, voseo (cantastes ‘id.’) was chosen twice as frequently in Paysandú (12.4% vs. 5.4%). By contrast, the present subjunctive was affected by all three independent variables. First, Paysandú respondents opted for voseo over twice as frequently as Montevideo speakers. Second, voseo usage doubled when the addressee was male. Finally, the semantic value of the subjunctive significantly affected voseo/tuteo variation: while voseo was negligible in subordinate clauses, it increased for negative requests, and was highest for negative commands.

To summarize, in spite of commonalities between the cities, the subjunctive marked a subtle distinction, aligning Paysandú to neighboring Argentinean rural varieties (Johnson & Grinstead 2011). Thus, historical links across a national border prove strong, in spite of the pull of the metropoli.

(1) Sample questionnaire item

Su primo y usted tienen que encontrarse en una oficina pública para hacer un trámite. Usted sabe que él suele ser impuntual.  Usted le dice:

a.   No llegues tarde, por favor.

b.   No llegués tarde, por favor.

c.   No llegue tarde, por favor.

d. Otra forma: ______________________________________________________

‘Your cousin and you have to meet at a public office in order to do some paperwork. You know that he tends to be late. You tell him:

a.     Don’t be late, please. (T)

b.     Don’t be late, please. (V)

c.     Don’t be late, please. (U)

d.     Something else: _________________________________________________’


Behares, Luis E.  1981.  Estudio sociodialectológico de las formas verbales de segunda persona en el español de Montevideo. In Adolfo Elizaincin (ed.), Estudios sobre el español del Uruguay. Montevideo: Universidad de la República, Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias. 29-49. Bertolotti, Virginia & Magdalena Coll. 2003. A synchronical and historical view of the tú/vos option in the Spanish of Montevideo. In Silvina Montrul & Francisco Ordóñez (eds.), Linguistic theory and language development in Hispanic languages: Papers from the 5th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium and the 4th Conference on the Acquisition of Spanish and Portuguese. Somerville, Mass.: Cascadilla. 1-12. Bertolotti, Virginia. 2011. La peculiaridad del sistema alocutivo singular en Uruguay. In Angela di Tulllio & Rolf Kailuweit (eds.), El español rioplatense: Lengua, literatura, expresiones culturales. Madrid & Frankfurt: Iberoamericana/Vervuert. Elizaincín, Adolfo & Olga Díaz.  1979.  Aceptación social y conciencia de hablantes montevideanos ante -s en la segunda persona singular del pretérito.  Revista de la Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias. Serie Lingüística.  1(2), 20-36. Elizaincín, Adolfo & Olga Díaz.  1981.  Sobre tuteo-voseo en el español montevideano. In Adolfo Elizaincín (ed.),   Estudios sobre el español del Uruguay. Montevideo: Universidad de la República, Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias. 83-86. Fontanella de Weinberg, María Beatriz.  1979.  La oposición “cantes/cantés” en el español de Buenos Aires.  Thesaurus. 34, 72-83. Johnson, Mary & John Grinstead. 2011. Variation in the tuteo and voseo negative imperatives in Argentine Spanish.  University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 17 (2), 99-104. Mendoza, Reinhild B. 2005. Der Voseo im Spanischen Uruguays. Eine pluridimensionale Makro- und Mikroanalyse. Kiel: Westensee-Verlag. Moyna, María Irene & Beatriz Ceballos. 2008. Representaciones dramáticas de una variable lingüística: Tuteo y voseo en obras de teatro del Río de la Plata (1886-1911). Spanish in Context 5 (1), 64-88. Rona, José Pedro.  1967.  Geografía y morfología del “voseo”.  Porto Alegre: Pontifícia Universidade Católica. Steffen, Joachim. 2010. El tratamiento en el Uruguay. In Martin Hummel, Bettina Kluge & María Eugenia Vázquez Laslop (eds.), Formas y fórmulas de tratamiento en el mundo hispánico. El Colegio de México, Karl-Franzen-Universität Graz: México D.F. 451-464.


Catrin Norrby (Stockholm), Jan Lindström (Helsinki), Camilla Wide (Turku) & Jenny Nilsson (Gothenburg)

Address practices and interpersonal relationships in Finland-Swedish and Sweden-Swedish medical consultations

The way in which we address one another is crucial to expressing interpersonal relationships and is closely associated with contextual factors and socio-cultural values of the particular speech community. In our workshop presentation we focus on how interpersonal orientations are expressed and managed through address practices in Finland Swedish and Sweden Swedish by examining one particular activity: medical consultations. For this purpose we draw on data from two large corpora of doctor-patient interactions in each national variety of Swedish (Ulla Melander Marttala’s Sweden-Swedish corpus LOP and Camilla Lindholm’s Finland-Swedish corpus INK). Our overall quantitative findings support previous research which has found Finland Swedish to adhere to more formal patterns of address compared to the more informal address practices in Sweden Swedish (e.g. Clyne, Norrby & Warren 2009). However, our qualitative interactional analysis demonstrates that the address practices are more complex. They involve, for example, more avoidance of direct address in some of the Finland-Swedish conversations, while others are much more informal with consistent use of T pronouns (du), making them more similar to their Sweden-Swedish counterparts.

Our workshop contribution forms part of the large-scale, bi-national research programme Interaction and Variation in Pluricentric Languages – Communicative Patterns in Sweden Swedish and Finland Swedish (funded by The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation from 2013 to 2020). The programme involves a systematic comparison of communicative patterns in the two national varieties of Swedish, based on naturally occurring conversations in the domains of service, education and health care. It also aims at contributing to international theory development for the study of pluricentric languages. By using theories and methods such as conversation analysis and ethnography of communication, the programme will be able to describe and explain pluricentric language phenomena that previous research has not been able to identify.


Clyne, M., C. Norrby & J. Warren. 2009. Language and human relations. Address in contemporary language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


María Elena Placencia (London)

(Pro)nominal address in commercial service encounter interactions in an Ecuadorian online market place

The growth of e-commerce over recent years makes examining address usage in contexts where (prospective) buyers and sellers interact online a timely and revealing exercise.  This paper examines such usage within one specific domain of service encounters in an Ecuadorian online marketplace where sellers advertise a product and buyers can make offers or ask for further information before proceeding with a purchase.  The exchanges, in the form of requests for information or for a particular action, offers and assessments and corresponding answers, are anonymous and are visible to anyone accessing the site.

A corpus of 230 exchanges between 22 sellers and multiple buyers was compiled by randomly selecting products within the chosen domain among sellers in the Quito/Pichincha area. The paper examines both pronominal and nominal forms of address employed by buyers and sellers, including  the relational (cf. Locher and Watts, 2005) import of their choices. With respect to pronominal address, the use of both familiar (T) and formal usted (V) forms is observed, and sometimes even a mixture of the two, showing that there are no fixed norms in operation for anonymous online encounters or that perhaps they are currently in transition.  This appears to contrast with face-to-face encounters where pronominal usage in service encounters among strangers in Quito has been found to be rather fixed (cf. Placencia 2008), with a predominance of formal usted.

In relation to nominal forms, a variety of forms were identified.  They range from the deferential, as in mi señor (sir), to the neutral in the form of the buyer’s username (e.g. SERTE2009), and to the form amigo (male friend) widely used to indicate solidarity.  The latter is the address form that is used more frequently than others, although some individual preferences can be observed, at least among sellers.  Amigo occurs in different places in the exchanges, giving the interaction a friendly and egalitarian feel. When it is used by the buyer in a bargaining move, or by the buyer when declining an offer, its mitigating function seems to come to the fore.  


Locher, Miriam A. & Richard J. Watts. 2005. Politeness theory and relational work. Journal of Politeness Research 1, 9-33. Placencia, María Elena. 2008. Pragmatic variation in corner shop transactions in Ecuadorian Andean and Coastal Spanish. In K. P. Schneider & A. Barron (eds.), Variational Pragmatics. A Focus on Regional Varieties in Pluricentric Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 307-332.


Uli Reich (FU Berlin)

Functional redistribution of forms of address in Colombia

In Colombia, as in other regions of the world, we find different systems of address. In some areas, the widespread binary system with  and usted works, with the normal restriction of all american dialects of Spanish that the system is conflated into ustedes in plural: vostros, the form for informal plural address in Spain, is not in use. Other areas have basically the same system, only with vos and a different verbal agreement morphology which is known also in many regions of Hispanoamerica. This situation reflects sociohistoric differences between peripheral (Antioquia) and metropolitan settlements (Bogotá) and between feudal systems built on slavery as in Cauca and Valle del Cauca and more egalitarian systems as in Santander. The picture gets more complicated when we find that in the capital Bogotá, all systems come together and are functionally redistributed. A ternary system has emerged: tú, vos and usted, eventually completed by sumercé, a pronoun developed from the original nominal honorofic su merced ("your honor"), and are set to differentiate complex social differences linguistically. My talk tries to give a bird eye's view of the general picture, shows some data of the pronouns in use today and tries to give a sound pragmatic account of these facts.


Brown, P./Levinson, S. 1987. Politeness: Some universals in language usage, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Montes Giraldo, J. J. 1967. Sobre el voseo en Colombia. Thesaurus XXII/1, 21-44. Montes Giraldo, J. J. 2000. El Español de Colombia: Propuesta para su Clasificación Dialectal. In Montes Giraldo, J. J. (ed.): Otros Estudios sobre el Español de Colombia, Bogotá: Caro y Cuervo, 31-99.


Anu Rouhikoski (Helsinki)

Addressing zero? Indirect address forms in Finnish requests

Although providing two direct address forms – 2nd person singular and 2nd person plural – Finnish has been said to be a language particularly characterized by indirect address forms and the avoidance of person reference (see, e.g., Yli-Vakkuri 2005). In my paper, I discuss the use of one indirect address form, the zero person construction, in institutional settings. The presentation is based on my ongoing PhD study, in which I study the variation of directive utterances given by social insurance officials. The data consist of authentic, video-taped service encounters (ca. 12 hours).

Due to their institutional role, the social insurance officials are in a position where they constantly make directive utterances (requests, advice, instructions, suggestions, etc.) to their clients. A wide range of different syntactic constructions (e.g. imperative, interrogative, 2nd person declarative) is manifested in the data. The most frequent format, however, is to use a modal verb (e.g. pitää, täytyä ‘have to’, voida ‘may’, kannattaa ‘be worth’) with either a 2nd person pronoun or with the so-called zero person. The zero person construction consists of a finite verb in 3rd person singular and no subject pronoun, as in the following example:

(1)   Tässä om puhelinnumero mihiv voi ottaa yhteyttä.

        Here is phone-number which-ILL can take-INF contact-PAR.

        ‘Here’s a phone number that can be contacted / [literally:] … that [one] can contact.’

(2) Tämä korvaushakemus pitäs vielä täyttää

      This application shall-COND still fill-in-INF

      ‘This application should still be filled in. / (Literally: [One] should still fill in this application.’

Zero person clauses are generally considered impersonal and passive-like; in other words, both speaker and listener – as well as anyone not present – could potentially be included in the subject. While theoretically impersonal, the zero person is also used in a few more or less conventionalized constructions where the speaker refers either to him/herself or to the interlocutor, the latter case permitting its use in directive utterances. (ISK § 1347–1348, 1354.)

In my presentation, I discuss the variation of address forms in directive utterances: Are 2nd person directives used differently from those built with the zero person construction? In which kinds of contexts is either one of the variants used? My intention is to show that the use of indirect address forms in Finnish does not serve merely the functions of avoiding direct person reference or providing a clever escape from the awkward situation of choosing between 2nd person singular or 2nd person plural pronouns. The zero person can even be used to manifest the social insurance offices’ policy to treat all their clients in an equal manner. Zero person turns like Tästähän täytyy tehdä ihan, niikun, kirjallinen valitus (‘ About this matter, [one] must make a written complaint’) not only apply to the present client; moreover, they imply that any Finnish citizen who finds him/herself under similar circumstances would have to make a written complaint.


ISK = Hakulinen, Auli – Vilkuna, Maria – Korhonen, Riitta – Koivisto, Vesa – Heinonen, Tarja Riitta – Alho Irja 2004: Iso suomen kielioppi. [Comprehensive Finnish Grammar.] Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura. Yli-Vakkuri, Valma. 2005. Politeness in Finland: Evasion at all costs. In Leo Hickey & Miranda Stewart (eds.), Politeness in Europe. Multilingual Matters 127. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.


Doris Schüpbach (Melbourne) & Catrin Norrby (Stockholm)

Address in two pluricentric languages: Swedish and German

In this paper we compare patterns of address in national varieties of two pluricentric languages, Swedish (Sweden Swedish and Finland Swedish) and German (German, Austrian and Swiss Standard German).

We mainly draw on a large-scale project on address in French, German and Swedish in five European countries (Clyne, Norrby & Warren 2009). The data were collected in key localities of the national varieties through focus groups, interviews, chat groups and participant observation. They are complemented for German by a corpus of first-hand accounts of Germans living in Austria and Switzerland respectively and advice given to Germans moving to these countries.

Our findings show that the dominant variation between address in the national varieties of German is the much greater use of titles in Austria and the much more widespread use of T in the workplace, both to superiors and at the same level of seniority, in Austria and even more so in Switzerland. Within Germany, variation in address practices also raises the question whether East and West German were separate national varieties during the division of Germany.

In Sweden Swedish, the V form was virtually abandoned in the 1960s. With very few exceptions, such as addressing elderly people in service encounters, universal T is now the default address. However, in Finland Swedish, V is still employed to express status and formality, reflecting conservatism and the influence of the Finnish language. This means that controversy as to whether V is exclusionary in Sweden is not relevant in Finland Swedish.

We argue that variation in address in pluricentric languages underlines the importance of societal and sociocultural developments and perceived national identity, and that the socio-cultural context overrides shared language in influencing politeness practices. In addition, our study not only shows different address practices between national centres, but also emphasizes that knowledge of address in others’ varieties is largely stereotypical and asymmetrical, in that speakers of the dominant varieties (Clyne 1992, i.e. German Standard German and Sweden Swedish) are much less aware of the different pragmatic rules guiding address in other varieties and much less sensitive towards different national standards in address.


Clyne, M., C. Norrby & J. Warren. 2009. Language and Human Relations. Styles of Address in Contemporary Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Clyne, M. (ed.). 1992. Pluricentric Languages. Differing Norms in Different Nations. Berlin & New York: Mouton de Gruyter.


Horst Simon (FU Berlin)

Issues that one might still want to address

Research on address forms has made tremendous progress over the last half-century, moving through various versions of sociolinguistic research paradigms up to the more recently developed perspective within interactional pragmatics. Nonetheless, I have the impression that not all conceivable research questions have been tackled in sufficient detail – which may partly be due to a lack of adequate research methods, and partly due to a general neglect of formal aspects of linguistic items in contrast to their functionality within the address research community.

By way of introduction to this workshop, I will present some observations concerning issues that one might still want to address in this context. In particular, I will highlight the interpretation of address forms in terms of morphosyntactic agreement features (drawing data from non-standard varieties of German and French) and the problem of delineating paradigms of address pronouns in the first place (using the borderline between nominal and pronominal forms in Afrikaans – and maybe elsewhere – as a particularly tricky example). Both issues will shed light on the grammatical underpinnings of the linguistic repertoires that speakers functionalise for pragmatic purposes embedded in their respective sociolinguistic environments.


Sarah Sinnott (Atchison)

Four Manners of Meaning Contribution of T/V Address Forms

The principal focus in address form research, as stated in this call for papers, has been the search for who? when? and why? My focus extends beyond these questions to ask and seek answers to the question of how? i.e. how do address forms contribute meaning to an utterance?

I concentrate on singular T/V forms in Castilian Spanish. Given that so many meanings are associated with T/V forms and that these meanings vary depending on when and by whom they are used (e.g. Alba de Diego & Sánchez Lobato 1980, Brown & Gilman 1960, and Moreno Fernández 1986), the next logical question to ask is how? How are so many meaning possible in one pair of terms, and how do speakers negotiate these meanings? Based on data collected via 92 interviews and questionnaires containing various pragmatic tasks, it was noted that T/V contributed meanings in several different, but related, ways. First, all meanings are made possible by the fact that V contributes distance via conventional implicature (as in Potts 2005). This is the only meaning entailed or inherent in either form, however the interaction between the two allows other meanings to arise via generalized (GCI) or particularized (PCI) conversational implicature (as in Levinson 2000). For example, respect is contributed via GCI; it relies on contextual information, but is considered a default meaning by speakers. Anger is contributed via PCI because it only arises in highly specific contexts. Finally, speakers associate T/V forms with specific qualities of the addressee, such as age, or of the environment, such as formality. These characteristics are indexed by the forms, but not entailed or implicated by them, i.e. they are not part of the inherent meaning of the forms, but are not necessarily intended by the speaker either.

All meanings, whether contributed by GCI, PCI, or index, are related via the concept of distance. Using the notion of indexical field (as in Eckert 2008) as my theoretical basis, I demonstrate how all of these possibilities are organized and how they might be negotiated by speakers. The proposed model takes the form of a layered indexical field. The inner layer represents the indices associated with T/V. The second layer contains GCIs and the final layer PCIs. The organization of the layers represents the necessary pattern of negotiation. A speaker begins in level 1 and extends to level 2 or 3 only if necessary. Inner layers are reached in more contexts, and therefore are more commonly associated with the forms. For example, the use of V might index a greater relative age which in turn triggers the GCI of respect. The negotiation will stop there unless something in the context tells the addressee that respect is not being conveyed and they would then look for another possibility, such as anger.

This approach is the first to my knowledge to extensively explore the how of T/V forms and answers the question by combining the sociolinguistic and pragmatic aspects of the forms into one cohesive model.


Alba de Diego, Vidal & Jesús Sánchez Lobato. 1980. Tratamiento y juventud en la lengua hablada. Boletín de la real academia española CCXIX, 95-129. Brown, Roger & Albert Gilman. 1960. The pronouns of power and solidarity. In Sebeok (ed.), Style in language. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 253-276. Eckert, Penelope. 2008. Variation and the indexical field. Journal of Sociolinguistics 12(4), 453-476. Levinson, Stephen C. 2000. Presumptive meanings. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Moreno Fernández, Francisco. 1986. Sociolingüística de los tratamientos: Estudio sobre una comunidad rural. Anuario de letras: revista de la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras 24, 87-120. Potts, Christopher. 2005. The logic of conventional implicatures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Roel Vismans (Sheffield)

Negotiating transition: moving from V toT in Dutch

The dynamic nature of address is highlighted regularly in the literature. In Brown & Gilman’s seminal paper, the final section, entitled ‘The pronous of address as expressions of transient attitudes’ (Brown & Gilman 1972: 276ff.), goes into stylistic variation whose purpose is the subtle expression of different attitudes. Significantly, Brown and Gilman write that this “momentary shift of pronoun directly expresses a momentary shift of mood”. In their dramatic examples from the early modern period, some speakers seem almost free to move between T and V as the mood grabs them. However, the authors also go on to say that such free variation is no longer common: “Our informants told us that the T, once extended, is almost never taken back for the reason that it would mean the complete withdrawal of esteem.” Although present-day pronoun use is probably more subtle that, a great deal of data suggest that in similar contexts moves from one pronoun to another tend to be unidirectional, but that there can be stylistic shifts between contexts. For example, in the context of a face-to-face conversation or an informal email chain, Dutch officials quickly initiate a (permanent) move to T whilst retaining V in formal correspondence with the same person.

However, even such unidirectional transitions to T are evidence of the dynamic nature of address and they are the subject of this paper. The central concepts in Clyne et al.’s address model, social distance and common ground, “are not stable, static categories, but are negotiated and renegotiated in the interactional context” (Clyne et al. 2009: 36). In this paper we will investigate that negotiating process by studying interviews from the radio programme Casa Luna, which is broadcast on Dutch national radio between midnight and 2 am on weekdays. The programme contains a 45-minute in-depth interview with a professional. These interviews give a greater deal scope for negotiating forms of address than brief interviews in news or current affairs programmes. Moreover, the fact that they usually concentrate on one individual eliminates any potential for confusion that may arise from chat shows with multiple interviewees. A small sample of these interviews where transitions occur will be analysed using (critical) discourse analysis techniques. The aim is to clarify how transitions to T are negotiated in Dutch and what these negotiating processes can tell us about possible motivations for intiating transitions.


Brown, Roger & Albert Gilman. 1960. The pronouns of power and solidarity. In T.A. Sebeok (ed.), Style in language. Boston: MIT Press. 253-76. Reprinted in Pier Paolo Giglioli (ed.). 1972. Language and social context. Harmondsworth: Penguin. 252-282. Clyne, Michael, Catrin Norrby & Jane Warren. 2009. Language and Human Relations. Styles of Address in Contemporary Language. Cambridge: CUP.