October 9, 2015 October 10, 2015
    LAAH Room 453 Glasscock Center Room 311
8-8:30am  Breakfast/Registration                    Breakfast/Registration
I 8:30-9am Elizabeth Mayne (University of Texas at Austin):
Native and non-native perceptions of tu vs. vous in complex relationships
María Eugenia Vázquez Laslop (El Colegio de México):
Mexican Spanish address-term systems in presidential election debates (1994 and 2012)
9-9:30am Kelsey Harper (Texas A&M University):
A program for teaching Spanish forms of address
María José Serrano (Universidad de La Laguna):
Addressing hearer–participants in oral media discourse: Variation of the second-person objects in Spanish
9:30-10am Zohreh Eslami (Texas A&M University):
Forms of address used in computer mediated communication
María Elena Placencia & Amanda Lower (Birkbeck University of London):
Addressing among young Ecuadorian and Spanish women on Facebook
10-10:30am Maciej Jaskot (University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw):
Form of address: The non-equivalent vocabulary issue in contrastive studies
Eba Munguía (Texas A&M University):
Second person singular forms of address in social networks: Hondurans on Facebook
10:30-11am Coffee break Coffee break
II 11-11:30am Joseph R. Weyers (College of Charleston):
Cross-national advertising in Spanish: Forms of address in commercial signage in the US & Mexico
Mary Johnson (Occidental College):
Comas ~ Comás: Address form variation in Argentinian Spanish subjunctive
11:30-12pm Karen López Alonzo (The Ohio State University):
Use and perception of the pronominal trio vos, tú, usted in a Nicaraguan Community in Miami, Florida
Miguel Gutiérrez Maté (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg/University of California, Irvine):
Syntax and pragmatics of address pronouns in the Spanish-based creole Palenquero (and in San Basilio de Palenque Spanish)
12-12:30pm Wojciech Sosnowski (The Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences):
Social, cultural and semantic aspects of forms of address in Slavonic languages
Víctor Fernández-Mallat and Marcela Rivadeneira Valenzuela (University of Washington, Universidad Católica de Temuco):
Variation and alternation of second person verbal forms in conversational Chilean Spanish: A corpus-based study
12:30-1pm Thoai Ton (University of New England, Australia):
Ellipses of address terms in casual communication events in Vietnamese
Terrell Morgan & Scott Schwenter (The Ohio State University):
Castilian Spanish evidence for singular-plural asymmetries in T/V Address
1-2pm Lunch Lunch
III 2-2:30pm Hanna Lappalainen (University of Helsinki):
Visual material as stimulus in studies of address practices
Gian Marco Farese (Australian National University):
“Generic titles” as forms of address in Italian: Their meanings unpacked through Natural Semantic Metalanguage
2:30-3pm María Irene Moyna (Texas A&M University):
Usted in Uruguayan Spanish
Susan Burt (Illinois State University):
Person-referring expressions, reference nominals, and address nominals: Explorations in a small, local corpus
3-3:30pm Roel Vismans (University of Sheffield):
Politeness and address: A theoretical exploration
Zenzi M. Griffin, Jordan C. Davison, Rhoda Jiao, Ariel Sibille, and Betty Barrs (University of Texas at Austin):
When do multiple names for a person affect name learning and retrieval?
3:30-4pm Coffee break Coffee break
IV 4-4:30pm Chimwemwe Undi & Verónica Loureiro-Rodríguez (University of Manitoba):
All My Natives: The use of “native” as an in-group term in the Aboriginal hip-hop community
Owen Campbell (University of Manitoba):
Gurl, please, you are as gay as a picnic in Paris: Gendered terms of address in the gay male community
4:30-5pm Matthew Urichuk & Verónica Loureiro-Rodríguez (University of Manitoba):
Brocatives: A pilot study of nominal forms of address in Winnipeg
Annette Maria Myre Jørgensen (Bergen University):
Vocatives and/or discourse markers
5-5:30pm H. Leo Kretzenbacher, John Hajek, Catrin Norrby & Doris Schüpbach (University of Melbourne, University of Stockholm):
Austrian German speakers’ introduction and address behaviour at international conferences
Julia M. Baquero & Germán Westphal (Universidad Nacional de Colombia, University of Maryland Baltimore County):
Verbal violence in the use of Chilean pronominal and verbal voseos
5:30-6pm Agnese Bresin, John Hajek and H. Leo Kretzenbacher (University of Melbourne):
Alternation between V and T address in Italian
6:30-9pm Reception Dinner

Julia M. Baquero & Germán Westphal (Universidad Nacional de Colombia, University of Maryland Baltimore County): Verbal violence in the use of Chilean pronominal and verbal voseos

This paper examines the use of Chilean voseo in the blog post titled “Voh no sabís de violencia” (You do not know what violence is), which includes  pronominal and verbal forms that were ruled to be of a bastardized nature by Bello (1834) and (1847). However, the paper argues that they are perfectly grammatical to the extent that they adhere to the phonological rules of the language as Baquero and Westphal (2014) have shown.

Additionally, the paper elaborates on the use of the second person pronoun “vos” instead of the standard pronoun “tú” in the dialect, and the use of the allophonic alternation [h] / [s] as exemplified –for instance– by “vo[h]” and “sabí[s]”. In this regard, the paper shows that the use of the pronoun “vos” in Chilean Spanish is generally aggressive in nature, whereas the non aspirated allophone [s] indicates careful speech that contrasts with the use of the allophone [h] in the pronominal form “voh” –strengthening the verbal violence of the sentence “Voh no sabís de violencia.”

In addition to the examples included in the blog post “Voh no sabís de violencia,” several other examples drawn from different Internet sources will be brought to bear on the issues outlined above.


Baquero, J.M. y G.F. Westphal (2014) “Un análisis sincrónico del voseo verbal chileno y rioplatense.” Forma y Función. 27 (2), 11-40.

Bello, Andrés (1834) “Advertencias sobre el uso de la lengua castellana dirigidas a los padres de familia, profesores de los colegios y maestros de escuelas.” Obras completas, Tomo 5. Santiago de Chile, 1884: Pedro G. Ramírez.

______ (1847) Gramática de la Lengua Castellana destinada al uso de los Americanos. Obras completas, Tomo 4. Santiago de Chile, 1884: Pedro G. Ramírez.


Agnese Bresin, John Hajek and H. Leo Kretzenbacher (University of Melbourne): Alternation between V and T address in Italian

Unidirectional switching from V to T address, known as ‘transition from V to T’ (Clyne et al., 2009), is reported in many languages as a phenomenon often signalling a relaxation in the relationship between interlocutors. Italian is no exception (Maiden and Robustelli, 2000; Molinelli, 2010; Renzi, 1993; Serianni, 2000). Sometimes, however, the switch from V to T address in Italian is only temporary, i.e. it is followed by another switch back to V address (Scarpocchi and Vicenti 1993, p. 67). Other times, a switch can occur the other way around, i.e. from T to V (Ala-Risku 2013, p 243; Renzi 1993, p. 380). These phenomena appear different from the traditional ‘transition from V to T’ either in the number of switches, in the direction of the switching, or both. We use the expression ‘alternation between T and V address’ to refer to switching between T and V forms in any direction by the same interlocutors, other than the unidirectional transition from V to T.

Alternation between V and T pronouns in Italian has rarely been investigated in detail. Studies on fictional speech (Ala-Risku, 2013; Imperato, 2013; Pavesi, 2011; Scarpocchi and Vicenti, 1993) see V/T pronoun alternation in Italian often linked to changing attitudes, settings or roles. Furthermore, Suomela-Härmä’s (2013) survey-based investigation has highlighted the importance of uncertainty in V/T alternation in Italian, but also the active use of it as a possible strategy for a transition from V to T. Studies on authentic speech point to further factors, such as language contact between normative Italian and local dialect (Sobrero, 1992), limited use of formal code (Tempesta, 1995) and lapses (Timm, 2001). Alternation between V and T pronouns in Italian appears to be a complex phenomenon: it is hard to distinguish whether it occurs voluntary or involuntary and whether it is related to a V to T transition or not.

In this paper, we look at the alternation between V and T pronouns in the perception of Italian speakers living in selected regions of the north, centre and south of Italy. How often is it reported to occur? What is it associated with? The phenomenon of V/T address alternation is analyzed both quantitatively – in relation to a number of demographic characteristics of the speakers, including age, gender, region and size of town where respondents live – and qualitatively – in the light of respondents’ comments. For deeper analysis and more consistent comparison across groups, we chose to restrict our investigation to one kind of setting only, i.e. restaurants. Therefore, this is the first study providing a detailed description and statistical data on V/T alternation in the perception of waiters and customers in the restaurants of Italy.


Ala-Risku, R. (2013). Tradizione e innovazione del sistema allocutivo italiano in un corpus cinematografico. In E. Suomela-Härmä, J. Härmä, & E. Havu (Eds.), Représentations des formes d’adresse dans les langues romanes (pp. 201-247). Helsinki: Société Néophilologique.

Clyne, M., Norrby, C., & Warren, J. (2009). Language and Human Relations: Styles of address in contemporary language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Imperato, C. (2013). L’uso delle forme allocutive in un corpus di romanzi italiani. In E. Suomela-Härmä, J. Härmä, & E. Havu (Eds.), Représentations des formes d’adresse dans les langues romanes (pp. 173–199). Helsinki: Société Néophilologique.

Maiden, M., & Robustelli, C. (2000). A Reference Grammar of Modern Italian. Chicago: NTC.

Molinelli, P. (2010). Allocutivi, pronomi. In Treccani l’enciclopedia italiana. Retrieved May 10, 2015 from’Italiano)

Pavesi, M. (2011). Exploring the role of address shifts in screen translation: An extended illustration from Crash. In R. Baccolini, D. Chiaro, C. Rundle & S. Whitsitt (Eds.), Minding the gap: Studies in linguistic and cultural exchange for Maria Rosa Bollettieri Bosinelli (pp. 111-132). Bologna: Bononia University Press.

Renzi, L. (1993). La deissi personale e il suo uso sociale. Studi di grammatica italiana, 15, 347-390.

Scarpocchi, R. & Vicenti, F. (1993). You -> ‘tu’ / ‘Lei / ‘voi’ / ‘Loro’. Analisi comparata dell’allocutivo in testi teatrali e cinematografici contemporanei inglesi e italiani. Annali dell’Università per stranieri di Perugia, 19, 27-73.

Serianni, L. (2000). Gli allocutivi di cortesia. In Treccani l’enciclopedia italiana. Retrieved May 10, 2015, from

Sobrero, A. A. (1992). Indicazioni stradali: modello urbano e modello rurale. In A. A. Sobrero (Ed.), Il dialetto nella conversazione. Ricerche di dialettologia pragmatica (pp. 161-172). Galatina: Congedo.

Suomela-Härmä, E. (2013). Analisi dei questionari italiani. In E. Suomela-Härmä, J. Härmä, & E. Havu (Eds.), Représentations des formes d’adresse dans les langues romanes (pp. 151–171). Helsinki: Société Néophilologique.

Tempesta, I. (1995). Tecniche di rilevamento e procedure d’analisi. Il caso della deissi sociale. In M. T. Romanello & I. Tempesta (Eds.), Dialetti e lingue nazionali: atti del XXVII Congresso della Società di linguistica italiana, Lecce, 28-30 ottobre 1993 (pp. 432-453). Rome: Bulzoni.

Timm, C. (2001). Das dreigliedrige Allokutionssystem des Italienischen in Neapel. Frankfurt/M: Peter Lang.


Susan Burt (Illinois State University): Person-referring expressions, reference nominals, and address nominals: Explorations in a small, local corpus

Wilson and Zeitlyn (1995) categorize both address and reference as “person-referring expressions” (PREs) for the purposes of their project in corpus linguistics.  The authors argue that a corpus approach to studying these expressions is more accurate than the self-report inherent in questionnaires and interviews used for much research on address, since it allows for correlating contextual factors with PRE choice, and also allows exploration of situations in which speakers may avoid using a PRE.

The current paper categorizes both reference nominals and address nominals as “relational tokens,” since both reference and address nominals offer information on how the speaker/writer views her relationship to the addressee/referent.  The corpus (full disclosure here!) contains no address terms; it is a collection of minutes, the records of a neighborhood women’s club established in the 1930’s.  In the early 1940s, the club began to take minutes of the meetings and to exact dues of the members.  As the purpose of the group, which continues to exist today, seems to be maintenance of a neighborly social network, the business of meetings is frequently focused on organizing tasks necessary to continuing the meeting schedule, though discussions of group action, such as volunteer work for Red Cross, or discussions of neighborhood events, wildlife, traffic, births, and deaths also find their way into the minutes.

But the minutes show something more: a shift in conventional forms of reference the elected secretaries use in writing of other members; in the 1940s, everyone is referred to as Mrs. + Last Name (Mrs.LN), reflecting a level of formality that may have found further expression in formal address in speech, but may alternatively be attributable to the perceived demands of the genre of meeting minutes.  In contrast, by the 1970s, in records of the same genre (meeting minutes), reference to group members is by First Name + Last Name (FNLN), with the exception of one secretary, who uses the older reference pattern during her 1970s year in office.  

This paper will review the Club minutes for five decades (1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s) and analyze use of forms of reference in the records of this social group.  The results will serve to illustrate one linguistic reflection of social change in the last century (Lakoff 2005 a,b), a change that I argue is likely to be reflected in address term conventions as well.  


Lakoff, Robin Tolmach.  2005a.  Civility and its discontents.  In R. Lakoff and S. Ide (eds.) Broadening the Horizon of Linguistic Politeness, pp. 23-24.  Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Benjamins.

______  2005b. The Politics of Nice.  Journal of Politeness Research 1,2: 173-191.

Wilson, Andrew J. and David Zeitlyn.  1995.  The Distribution of Person-Referring Expressions in Natural Conversation.  Research on Language and Social Interaction  28, 1: 61-92.


Owen Campbell (University of Manitoba): Gurl, please, you are as gay as a picnic in Paris: Gendered terms of address in the gay male community

In Scott Kiesling’s 2004 Dude, Kiesling shows how the use of “dude” by young heterosexual men has grown from use as a term of address, to a discourse marker.  Used to index solidarity and heterosexuality.   I posit that in the gay male community, the use of highly gendered terms of address, such as bitch, and gurl, are used in much the same way, to show group membership and homosexuality.  Numerous studies have been published on the male voice, and the phonetic features that lead some men to “sound gay” (Gaudio 1994; Munson, Jefferson and McDonald 2006; Munson et al. 2006; Munson 2007; Pierrehumbert et al. 2004; Podesva 2007; Smyth and Rogers 2002; and Smyth, Jacobs and Rogers 2003).  More recently, the discipline of sociolinguistics and its sub-discipline of language and sexuality, has begun to see publications on the trans male voice (i.e. individuals assigned female at birth, but who self-identify as male) appear in the literature (Zimman, 2010, 2012 and 2013).  Specifically, how the testosterone therapy that trans men begin causes the vocal pitch to drop, thus leading trans men to often be perceived as gay (Zimman, 2010).  However, what has been lacking, has been research on how trans men who identify as gay navigate the gendered lexicon of the largely cisgender gay male community; how they reconcile the highly feminized terms of address that are often used, having been raised as female.

Using Kiesling’s survey structure on terms of address (2004), I will be looking at how that gender performance affects, and is affected by, gay trans men.  Specifically, the terms bitch, girl, mama, sister, Mary, dude, and man, when used as terms of address, as well as when used as a discourse marker in the case of girl. The study is ongoing, the majority of data having been collected from an anonymous survey that has been distributed through various channels, such as, Facebook, trans list serves, The Rainbow Resource Centre, Gay Men’s Health Clinic, Klinic Community Health’s Trans Klinic (all in Winnipeg, MB, Canada), posters and word of mouth, as well as ongoing natural observation.

The purpose of this study is to add to the small but growing literature on the voices of trans men, and to better understand the interplays of language and sexuality.  By concentrating on the lexical choices that gay cisgender and gay transgender men make when addressing others, as opposed to phonetic features, I hope to expand on the current body of work.


Zohreh Eslami (Texas A&M University): Forms of address used in computer mediated communication

Computer-mediated communication (CMC) has received increasing scholarly attention over the last fifteen years. However, studies focusing on pragmatics of CMC in general and forms of address in particular are still underrepresented. This paper sets to analyze the sociopragmatics of electronic interaction between students and faculty members using English as an international language (EIL).  

With its high transmission speed, e-mail has been widely used for both personal communication and institutional communication (Baron, 2000; Crystal, 2001). The wide use of the e-mail medium, however, does not necessarily mean that it is used without difficulty. When writing emails, students have to make pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic choices concerning forms of address, suggesting new ideas, making requests, expressing disagreement, and closing the email with respect to the level of formality and relationship between the interlocutors (Baron, 1998, 2000; Kling, 1996).

This study investigates level of formality in forms of address used in email openings in native and non-native English speaking students’ emails sent to faculty members. Hofstede’s (1980) cultural dimension of power distance (PD) is used to distinguish between relatively high and relatively low PD cultures. The students’ choice of address forms in their email openings is discussed with respect to PD ranking, rapport management and the sociopragmatic conventions established in literature. The analysis is based on 500 emails written by 89 students. The findings indicate that students from relatively high PD cultures are more likely to opt for formal alternatives, concluding that national culture is an aspect to take into account when analyzing EIL communication.


Baron, N. S. (1998). Letters by phone or speech by other means: The linguistics of email. Language and Communication, 18, 133-170.

Baron, N. S. (2000). Alphabet to email: How written English evolved and where it’s heading. New York: Routledge.

Crystal, D. (2001). Language and the Internet. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hofstede, G. (2001) Culture’s consequences. 2nd ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Kling, R. (1996). Social relationships in electronic forums: Hangouts, salons, workplaces and communities. In R. Kling (Ed.), Computerization and controversy: Value conflicts and social choices (2nd ed.) (pp. 426-454). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.


Gian Marco Farese (Australian National University): “Generic titles” as forms of address in Italian: Their meanings unpacked through Natural Semantic Metalanguage

Although discussions on forms of address abound in various branches of linguistics, so far virtually no analysis has been made from a strictly semantic point of view. Most linguists seem to have simply accepted the idea that forms of address have no propositional content and that they merely function as “a courteous indication of recognition of the hearer” (Searle 1969:64-65). Even though it is obvious that forms of address are formulaic in nature, I would like to question the assumption that they are devoid of semantic content. In particular, I suggest that different forms of address express a particular interactional meaning (Wierzbicka 1992) which consists of expressed attitudes and feelings, and that this meaning can be captured adopting the methodology of the Natural Semantic Metalanguage as a culturally-neutral methodology of semantic analysis.

In particular, the focus of this paper is on the interactional meaning of the titles signore, signora, signorina and signori in Italian, which I call “generic titles” following the Enciclopedia Treccani (2011) because they are not limited to particular professions or social positions, but can be used to address different people in a variety of situations. Evidence suggests that in Italian “generic titles” are used in different combinations to address either a stranger or someone the speaker does not know well. At the same time, they differ in terms of reciprocity and symmetry of use. As I will show, the ways in which each of these titles are used help pinpoint their interactional meaning, which reflects, in each case, the speaker’s expressed way of thinking about the interlocutor. Specifically, I argue that the cognitive scenario includes ideas about how the speaker relates to the hearer in the exchange, about the hearer’s position in society and about the hearer as a particular kind of person or, in NSM terms, ‘someone of one kind’. The discussion is supported by several examples in extended context adduced from literary and electronic sources.   

The analysis is aimed at showing from a semantic point of view that the Italian “generic titles” reflect ways of thinking and practices which are language- and culture-specific and that, as a consequence, they can be problematic in intercultural interactions with speakers whose cultural expectations are different. Indeed, for speakers of languages which do not have comparable lexical resources (e.g. English) it might be difficult to understand the way “generic titles” are used in Italian and to negotiate address behaviour with an Italian speaker in an intercultural exchange.

In this respect, NSM is an optimal auxiliary tool for decoding the meaning of such language-specific forms of address. Being based on simple, cross-translatable words, the explications proposed for the Italian “generic titles” can be formulated both in English and in Italian and are testable against the intuition of Italian native speakers. That is, the explications are accessible to both cultural insiders and cultural outsiders who, being equipped with a mini-vocabulary which is translatable into their own language, can approach these titles from an internal perspective.


Duranti, Alessandro. 1997. Universal and culture-specific properties of greetings. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 7(1), 63-97.

Farese, Gian Marco. (to appear). An NSM-based semantic analysis of greetings, partings and forms of address in English and Italian. An ethnopragmatic approach. PhD thesis. Australian National University.

Fo, Dario. 1970. Morte accidentale di un anarchico. Torino: Einaudi.

Fo, Dario. 1989 [1970]. Accidental death of an anarchist. English translation by Gillian Hanna, adapted by Gavin Richards, London: Pluto.

Gamberale, Chiara. 2010. Le luci nelle case degli altri. Milano: Mondadori.

Goddard, Cliff. 2008. Cross-Linguistic Semantics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Goddard, Cliff & Anna Wierzbicka. 1994. Semantic and Lexical Universals—Theory and empirical findings. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Goddard, Cliff & Anna Wierzbicka. 2002. Meaning and Universal Grammar—Theory and empirical findings. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Goddard, Cliff & Anna Wierzbicka. 2014. Words and Meanings. Lexical Semantics across Domains, Languages & Cultures. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hooper, John. 2015. The Italians. New York: Penguin.

Parks, Tim. 2014. Italian Ways: on and off the rails from Milano to Palermo. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Peeters, Bert (ed.). 2006. Semantic Primes and Universal Grammar: Evidence from the Romance Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Pirandello, Luigi. 1974 [1916]. Pensaci Giacomino!: Commedia in tre atti. (2nd edn). Milano: Mondadori.

Pirandello, Luigi. 2015 [1921]. Sei personaggi in cerca d’autore. Milano: Garzanti.

Pirandello, Luigi. 1979 [1921]. Six characters in search of an author. English translation by John Linstrum. London: Eyre Methuen.

Pontiggia, Giuseppe. 1989. La grande sera. Milano: Mondadori.

Rossini Favretti, Rema. 2000. Progettazione e costruzione di un corpus di italiano scritto: CORIS/CODIS. In: R. Rossini Favretti (ed.), Linguistica e informatica. Multimedialità, corpora e percorsi di apprendimento, pp. 39-56.

Searle, John R. 1969. Speech Acts: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Various authors. 2011. Enciclopedia dell’italiano. Roma: Treccani.

Wierzbicka, Anna. 1992. Semantics: Culture and Cognition.Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wierzbicka, Anna. 2014. Imprisoned in English. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Víctor Fernández-Mallat and Marcela Rivadeneira Valenzuela (University of Washington, Universidad Católica de Temuco): Variation and alternation of second person verbal forms in conversational Chilean Spanish: A corpus-based study

Previous studies interested in second person forms of address in Chilean Spanish have based their analysis, among other things, on radio and TV corpora (see Rivadeneira & Clua 2011 and Torrejón 2010 respectively), linguistic questionnaires (see Bishop & Michnowicz 2010), and impressionistic observations (see Torrejón 1991). Broadly speaking, the results obtained by these studies reveal that in situations of communicative distance (e.g. when addressing strangers, foreigners, teachers or employers), the preferred verbal form is the one corresponding to usted (e.g. habla), while in situations of communicative immediacy (e.g. when addressing parents, siblings, significant others, colleagues or friends), people tend to alternate between verbal voseo and tuteo (e.g. hablái~hablas). Furthermore, and with regard to the alternation of verbal voseo and tuteo in situations of communicative immediacy, these studies show that the use of the former is conditioned primarily by gender and age; that is, verbal voseo is more likely to be used among males and younger portions of the population. In this paper, we focus on variation and alternation of second person verbal forms in a corpus of conversational Chilean Spanish characterized by the communicative immediacy of the interaction. Its aim is twofold: first, to explore the social and linguistic factors conditioning the use of verbal voseo among speakers, and, second, to compare the frequency of its use and distribution with respect to the frequencies and distributions reported in the aforementioned studies. A quantitative analysis of the frequency of use of verbal voseo and its distributional patterns is complemented by a qualitative analysis that shows the effects of speakers’ choices on the alternation of the verbal forms under study.

The results obtained indicate that 1) the frequency with which verbal voseo is used varies depending on the corpus analyzed, with a much higher frequency in a conversational corpus, 2) in the conversational context the factors of gender and age lose probabilistic weight, because no significant differences were observed, neither between men and women nor between the younger portions of the population and the older ones, and 3) the only factor that has an effect on the use of verbal voseo is priming, as we find that the probability of use of this form increases significantly when following another instance of verbal voseo. Thus, in addition to offering a strictly quantitative approach to the variation and alternation of second person verbal forms in a conversational context, this paper shows how speakers are influenced by their own choices when it comes to choose between second person verbal forms.


Bishop, K. and J. Michnowicz. 2010. Forms of Address in Chilean Spanish. Hispania 93, 3, 413-


Rivadeneira, M. and E. Clua. 2011. El voseo chileno: Una visión desde el análisis de la variación dialectal y funcional en medios de comunicación. Hispania 94, 4, 680-703.

Torrejón, A. 1991. Fórmulas de tratamiento de segunda persona singular en el español de Chile.

Hispania 74, 4, 1068-1076.

Torrejón, A. 2010. Nuevas observaciones sobre el voseo en el español de Chile. In M. Hummel, B. Kluge and M. Vázquez Laslop (eds.): Formas y fórmulas de tratamiento en el mundo hispánico. México: El Colegio de México, 755-769.


Zenzi M. Griffin, Jordan C. Davison, Rhoda Jiao, Ariel Sibille, and Betty Barrs (University of Texas at Austin): When do multiple names for a person affect name learning and retrieval?

Most psychological research on the learning and retrieval of personal names tacitly or explicitly assumes that there is one way to refer to a person by name. When cognitive psychologists do consider multiple names for a person, they study famous actors with famous characters, where either “Harrison Ford” or “Indiana Jones” is an acceptable label a person in a photograph (e.g., Brédart, 1993). In short, the way names are treated in cognitive literature has little to do with how names are used to refer to and address people in reality (Griffin, 2010).

Across societies, individuals are often referred to and addressed by several different names (e.g., Braun, 1988; Ervin-Tripp, 1972). For example in the United States, a person named “Elizabeth Peña” may be addressed as “Elizabeth,” “Dr. Peña,” “Liz,” “Champ,” etc. Brown and Ford (1964) found that the number of names U.S. college students had for an acquaintance increased with intimacy. In a broad sample, Alford (1988) found that some form of alternative or nickname was commonly used in 75% of societies. For multiple reasons, many naming systems result in an individual having multiple names either sequentially, simultaneously, or both.

Why might number of names (and other forms of address) matter? The speed and accuracy of name retrieval is likely to affect frequency of use and thereby social interactions. It may be the difference between greeting someone by name or not, or successfully getting a person’s attention.

Some predictions about which factors impact how people learn and retrieve multiple names for the same person can be based from experiments on objects that have multiple context appropriate names such as sofa/couch. All else being equal, these objects take longer to name than those with a single dominant name (e.g., chair), even for people who strongly prefer using one label (e.g., sofa). In word production models (e.g., Dell, 1986), representations of words that express similar meanings compete with one another, prolonging the selection process and delaying speech. Accidental word substitutions are most often related in meaning as in calling a tiger “lion” (and indeed, when a person is addressed by someone else’s name, the speaker tends to have a similar relationship to the addressee as with the person whose name intrudes; e.g., Griffin & Wangerman, 2013). Phonological overlap with other words also affects competition between word representations.

We will report the results of name learning experiments in which college students studied photographs of unfamiliar male faces and fictional information about them. The results suggest that first names (e.g., Victor) and unrelated nicknames (e.g., Marty) compete with one another for selection but that this competition is attenuated for nicknames that are phonologically related to first names (e.g., Victor-Vince) and nicknames that are derived from first names (Vic). Last names (e.g., Campbell) do not interfere with first names as nicknames do. The results suggest that different names compete with one another to extent that they may be used in similar ways and overlap phonologically.


Alford, R. D. (1988). Naming and Identity: A Cross-Cultural study of personal naming practice. New Haven, CN: HRAF Press.

Braun, F. (1988). Terms of Address: Problems of patterns and usage in various languages and cultures. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyer.

Brédart, S. (1993). Retrieval failures in face naming. In G. Cohen & D. M. Burke (Eds.), Memory for Proper Names (pp. 351–366). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Brown, R., & Ford, M. (1964). Address in American English. In D. Hymes (Ed.), Language in culture and society: A reader in linguistics and anthropology (pp. 234–244). New York: Harper & Row.

Dell, G. S. (1986). A spreading-activation theory of retrieval in sentence production. Psychological Review, 93, 283–321.

Ervin-Tripp, S. M. (1972). Alternation and co-occurrence. In J. J. Gumperz & D. Hymes (Eds.), Directions in Sociolinguistics: The ethnography of communication (pp. 218–250). New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Griffin, Z. M. (2010). Retrieving personal names, referring expressions, and terms of address. In B. Ross (Ed.), The Psychology of Learning and Motivation (Vol. 53, pp. 345-387). San Diego, CA.

Griffin, Z. M., & Wangerman, T. (2013). Parents accidentally substitute similar sounding sibling names more often than dissimilar names. PLOS ONE, 8(12), e84444.


Miguel Gutiérrez Maté (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg/University of California Irvine): Syntax and pragmatics of address pronouns in the Spanish-based creole Palenquero (and in San Basilio de Palenque Spanish)

The aim of this presentation is to explain the variable usage of address pronouns in the only Atlantic Spanish-based Creole (and also one of the very scarce Spanish Creoles: McWhorter 2000), i.e. Palenquero. This language is spoken by the Afro-descendent community of San Basilio de Palenque (Department of Bolivar, Colombia), that has been proven to be bilingual of both Spanish and Creole since the 18th century (Schwegler 1996).

Two address pronouns are used in today’s Palenquero: bo (one of the last remnants of Colonial Caribbean Spanish vos: Gutiérrez Maté 2013) and uté (derived from Sp. usted, which is well attested in Northern Colombia since the 17th century: Gutiérrez Maté 2012). The variability between these pronouns is not reminiscent of the variability between and usted found in Colombian Caribbean Spanish, including Palenque Spanish (Montes 1962, 1982; Schwegler 1993). Quite the contrary, it seems to be motivated “by a host of complex factors (including speaker’s age, degree of bilingualism, social distance, the name of an addressee, etc.)” (Schwegler 1993: 151). It is the weight of these sociolinguistic factors on the pronoun selection that constitutes the focus of my presentation. In addition, the theoretical background of Linguistic Politeness and Conversation Analysis will be adopted to explain even more defiant alternations, as when the same speaker switches between pronouns when addressing the same hearer.

The last part of my presentation will be devoted to some grammatical problems concerning the mixed grammatical paradigm of both pronouns, like:

(1) the consistent use of (which formally resembles the Spanish reflexive 3rd person pronoun) as the possesive counterpart of personal pronoun bo:

si bo te ba [a]güé, ké ria jue ya tan yegá ya tiela si?

if 2P.SUB CL go today, what day FOC ASP FUT arrive ASP country 2P.POS

‘if you leave today, what day are you arriving at your country?’

(2) the occasional combination of the (focusing) subject pronoun uté and the clitic subject o (<bo):

utéo tan kanda-lo


‘you will sing it’ / ‘It’s you who have to sing it’

These problems might point out to a more intense address-switching in prior stages of the history of Palenquero but need also to be explained in the context of creolization.

The corpus consists of a sample of interviews made by Schwegler in situ between 1985 and 1988. Possible differences with the so-called “New Palenquero”(Lipski 2012), i.e. Palenquero after the beginning of ethnoeducation in the village, will also be highlighted.


Gutiérrez Maté, Miguel. 2013. Pronombres personales sujeto en el español del Caribe: Variación e historia. Doctoral Thesis, University of Valladolid. <;

Gutiérrez Maté. 2012. “El pronombre usted en el español de Cartagena de Indias en el siglo XVII y su ‘divergencia’ de vuestra merced”. In Actas del VIII Congreso de la Asociación de Historia de la Lengua Española, ed. Emilio Montero, 1889-1904. Santiago de Compostela: MeuBook.

Lipski, John. 2012. The “New Palenquero”. Revitalization and Re-creolization. In: Colombian Varieties of Spanish. Madrid/Frankfurt: Vervuert/Iberoamericana.

McWhorter, John. 2000. The Missing Spanish Creoles. Recovering the Birth of Plantation Contact Languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Montes Giraldo, José Joaquín.1962. “Sobre el habla de San Basilio de Palenque (Bolívar, Colombia)”. Thesaurus 17, 446-450.

Montes Giraldo, José Joaquín. 1982. “El español de Colombia. Propuesta de clasificación dialectal”. Thesaurus 37, 23-93.

Schwegler, Armin. 1993. “Subject Pronouns and Person/Number in Palenquero”. Francis Byrne & John Holm (eds.), Atlantic meets Pacific. A global view of Pidginization and Creolization. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 145-161.

Schwegler, Armin. 2002. “On the (African) origins of Palenquero subject pronouns”. Diachronica 19, 273-332

Schwegler, Armin. Chi ma nkongo. Lengua y ritos ancestrales en El Palenque de San Basilio (Colombia). Madrid/Frankfurt: Vervuert/Iberoamericana.

Schwegler, Armin. In press. “Combining Population Genetics with Historical Linguistics: On the African Origins of the Latin America Black and Mulatto Populations”. En Spanish Language and Sociolinguistic Analysis, edd. Sandro Sessarego y Fernando Tejedo. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


Kelsey Harper (Texas A&M University): A program for teaching Spanish forms of address

English-speaking students learning Spanish as a foreign language experience difficulty when acquiring the Spanish address forms , usted, and vos. This is not only because students lack corresponding forms in their L1, but also because of insufficient exposure to authentic usage of these forms in the L2. Furthermore, teaching materials and textbooks provide limited suggestions on how to teach these forms; this may be because it is a difficult system to describe due to its variability. This study reviews existing literature and outlines the main research questions that should guide the development of a systematic program to improve Spanish L2 acquisition of address forms.

Twenty academic articles about the acquisition of address systems by L2 speakers were examined for this study. The articles were found using EBSCO host database and Google Scholar using the keywords “L2 pragmatic competence + Spanish,” “L2 address systems” and “forms of address + acquisition.” The searches yielded eleven articles about pragmatic competence in Spanish, including six specific to address systems. Similar searches yielded information about L2 acquisition of address systems in four other languages: English (3), French (2), Japanese (2), and German (1). Articles were discarded if they did not focus specifically on L1 English learners’ pragmatic development in a foreign language, or if they only provided an overview of address systems.

Four articles paid limited attention to the consequences of not acquiring an appropriate use of the Spanish L2 address system and how to most effectively teach the system in Spanish classrooms (González-Lloret, 2009; Gosselin, 2011; Mason and Nicely, 1995; Shenk, 2014). Instead, most studies on L2 pragmatic development focused on specific speech acts, such as refusals, requests, apologies, and directives (Brown & Levinson, 1987; Félix-Brasdefer, 2008; Márquez-Reiter, 2004; Pearson, 2006; Placencia, 2005).  

Much of the research observed in this study measures how well foreign language learners in classroom or study abroad settings acquire specific speech acts (Belz & Kinginger, 2003; Félix-Brasdefer, 2008; Langer, 2011; Pinto, 2005; Rodriguez, 2001), and most conclude that explicit instruction that raises meta-pragmatic awareness is the best way to teach them. Other research surveyed in this study suggests that learner identity is what most affects L2 pragmatic development (Kuriscak, 2006; Villareal, 2014).

The existing research confirms that Spanish linguistic pedagogy barely touches upon forms of address (González-Lloret, 2009; Gosselin, 2011; Mason and Nicely, 1995; Shenk, 2014). Students do not learn the complexity of the system within the classroom, and textbooks do not give importance to the variable nature of address forms.  For its part, the literature on the acquisition of address forms in French, German, and Japanese systems focused on learner difficulties and their pedagogical implications (Belz & Kinginger, 2003; Compernolle, 2010; Takenoya, 1996).

This study proposes that a long-term program of enquiry into acquisition of the sociopragmatics of address systems must answer at least the following two questions: 1. What are the consequences if students do not learn how to address others appropriately in the L2? 2. What are effective pedagogies for teaching the Spanish address system in the context of L2 acquisition? In the course of the presentation, I will outline possible methodological approaches to answer them.


Maciej Jaskot (University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw): Form of address: The non-equivalent vocabulary issue in contrastive studies

Recently, increasing attention has been paid to such areas in modern linguistics as linguoculturology and contrastive linguistics. We cannot forget about new approaches to the methodology of teaching foreign languages taking into account the original culture of the student.

Undoubtedly, politeness is one of the most interesting aspects of intercultural communication as it is deeply related to the cultural background of a speaker’s community. A large number of scientific works concerning the problem of “language and culture” shows the relevance of studying the phenomena of language in their connection to the cultural identity, and linguistic units showing the complex relations between cultural background and its expression in a determined linguistic code. Within the national oriented lexicon, non-equivalent units occupy a special place. I believe that forms of address need particular attention while coping with lexical units presenting problems with translation. Such problems are not only related to the mere form of such units but, most of the time, to the cultural power they present.

The translation, and therefore the teaching/learning process, should reflect the real behavioral strategies implemented in a non-artificial social model of linguistic behavior. The aim of the research is to show that forms of address are one of the most prone part of vocabulary to suffer from non-equivalence ambiguity. Thus, the choice of forms of treatment determines the success, or its lack, in the pragmatic dimension of communication. If the speaker chooses a form of address that corresponds to a particular situation, his/her social status will be preserved; otherwise a communicative failure can occur. In a real communication context not only the use of correct structural solutions of a language is important, but also all the pragmatic circumstances must be taken into consideration, paying a special attention to the abovementioned cultural background.

In my research I have used the method of confrontation of languages (in particular Romance and Slavic languages). The examples are oral expression specimen selected from foreign students of Romance and Slavic languages trying to transpose their mother tongue politeness formulas to the learned foreign language.


Hall, J. (2002) Teaching and Researching Language and Culture. New York: Longman.

Ivanov, A. O. (2006) Bezėkvivalentnaia leksika. Sankt Peterburg: Izdatel´stvo SpbGU.

Kisiel, A., Satoła-Staśkowiak, J., & Sosnowski, W. (2014). O rabote nad mnogoiazychnym slovarëm. Prykladna linhvistyka ta linhvistychni tekhnolohiї (MEGALING-2012), 111–121

Koseska-Toszewa, V., Satoła-Staśkowiak, J., & Sosnowski, W. (2013). From the problems of dictionaries and multi-lingual corpora. Cognitive Studies/Études cognitives, 13, 113–122.

Luchyk, A., & Antonova, O. (2012). Pol’s’ko-ukraїns’kyĭ slovnyk ekvivalentiv slova. (A. Kisiel & V. Koseska-Toszewa, Eds.). Kyїv: Ukraїns’kyĭ movno-informatsiĭnyĭ fond NAN Ukraїny, Natsional’nyĭ Universytet «Kyievo-mohylians’ka Akademiia», Instytut Slavistyky Pol’s’koї Akademiї Nauk

Podolej, M. (2009) Culture in bilingual dictionaries: Analysis of cultural content and culture-specific vocabulary in E-P-E dictionaries. Retrieved from:

Vezhbitskaia, А. (1999) Semanticheskie universalii i opisanie iazykov. Moskva: IAzyki russkoĭ kul´tury.

Vlakhov, S & Florin, S. (1980) Neperevodimoe v perevode. Moskva: Mezhdunarodnye otnosheniia.

Vorob´ëv, V. V. (1997) Lingvokul´turologiia (teoriia i metody). Moskva: Izd-vo MGU.


Mary Johnson (Occidental College): Comas ~ Comás: Address form variation in Argentinian Spanish subjunctive

Most Spanish varieties in the Americas include a second person singular address form vos, often in addition to the form (standard in Peninsular Spanish and a few other varieties). Argentinian Spanish (AS) is somewhat unique in that it offers an alternation in this paradigm, but only in the present subjunctive verb form, used both for irrealis in subordinate clauses and as a negative command. In other paradigms, only one verb form is used- either the vos form (VF) or the form (TF), but always with the pronoun vos, as the pronoun is not used in Argentina. Recent research has confirmed that pragmatic meaning conditions the alternation in the negative command form (Fontanella de Weinberg 1979 (& Lavandera 1975), García Negroni & Ramírez Gelbes 2004; Moyna 2009; Johnson 2010, 2013, in press). Most recently, Johnson (in press) analyzed negative commands only, and found the VF to be more restricted than the TF, constrained by the immediacy of the context. In Johnson (in press & 2013) results of a production survey and a perception survey indicate that in addition to the aforementioned effect of immediacy, the VF was used significantly more in contexts where the speaker was angry. The VF was also perceived as expressing more certainty regarding the addressee’s intentions than the TF. Additionally, males used the VF significantly more than females.

To date, almost all research on the topic assumes that the VF is possible only as a negative command, and not as a subjunctive form in subordinate clauses, where exclusively the TF is possible (Fontanella de Weinberg & Lavandera, 1975; Moyna, 2009). The present study serves to provide evidence to the contrary. I use data collected from Internet searches limited to Argentina, as well as constructed examples verified by native speakers of AS, in order to argue that while the VF is less common as a subjunctive in a subordinate clause, this is a result of the pragmatic meaning difference, and not due to ungrammaticality. Furthermore, evidence from subordinate subjunctive clauses provides insight as to how the pragmatic meaning of immediacy comes about in VFs.

The natural examples in (1-4) demonstrate that the VF certainly exists in subordinate clauses. Indirect quotes like (5) demonstrate that the sense of immediacy it is attributable to the speaker. While the mother used the TF, the father is licensed to use the VF because in his context (where he sees the boy reaching for the cake), immediacy was relevant. The attribution of the immediacy to the speaker is indicative of it being conventionally implicated meaning (Potts, 2007).

I conclude that the VF is less common in subordinate clauses not because it is ungrammatical, but rather because it is restricted to a subset of subordinate clauses, namely deontic ones. The voseo subjunctive form conventionally implicates immediacy in both the negative imperative and embedded clauses. This implicature itself is precisely the reason it is less commonly found in embedded clauses—they are less direct than negative imperatives, and, consequentially, also less immediate.


Fontanella de Weinberg, M. B. 1979. La oposición <<Cantes/Cantés>> en el español de Buenos Aires. Thesaurus 34, 72-83.

Fontanella de Weinberg, M. B. and Beatriz Lavandera. 1975. Internal Linguistic Factors in Variation: Negative Command in Buenos Aires Spanish (Ms).

García Negroni, M. M. & Ramírez Gelbes, S. (2004) Politesse et alternance vos/tú en espagnol du Rio de la Plata. Le cas du subjonctif. In: Actes du Colloque Pronoms de deuxième person- ne et formes d’adresse dans les langues d’Europe, París, Instituto Cervantes,

Author 2010.

Author 2013.

Author. (in press)

Moyna, María Irene. 2009. Child acquisition and language change: Voseo evolution in Río de la Plata Spanish. In Selected Proceedings of the 11th Hispanic Linguistics Symposium, ed. Joseph Collentine et al., 131-142. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

Potts, C. 2007. Conventional implicatures, a distinguished class of meanings. The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Interfaces. Oxford University Press.


  1. Leo Kretzenbacher, John Hajek, Catrin Norrby & Doris Schüpbach (University of Melbourne, University of Stockholm): Austrian German speakers’ introduction and address behaviour at international conferences

In an earlier pilot study, we compared German and English speakers’ address behaviour at international conferences in L1 English, L2 English and L1 German (cf. Kretzenbacher / Hajek / Norrby 2013). Given our interest also in pragmatics across pluricentric languages, one shortcoming with regard to German-speakers was the imbalance of cohorts between German and Austrian speakers of German. To address this issue we have since widened our database with the help of an online survey and a mailing list targeting academics in Austria. Our aim was to collect the first large-scale set of empirical data on introduction and address by native speakers of Austrian German in the same communicative context.

The now substantial Austrian data set allows us to gain an in-depth understanding of introduction and address behaviour in this group analysed by the parameters of gender and age, and to compare the Austrian German data with the data previously collected for German L1 speakers from Germany. It also allows us to compare the new German and Austrian data on introductions with German and Austrian data on address collected for a previous study (cf. Clyne / Norrby / Warren 2009).

In addition to quantitative data we also provide qualitative data from our Austrian German respondents regarding their experience of and attitudes to address at conferences. Finally, we also consider the implications of our findings in terms of a more general understanding of the pragmatic behaviours of L1 German speakers and their country of origin.


Clyne, Michael / Norrby, Catrin / Warren, Jane. 2009. Language and Human Relations. Styles of address in contemporary language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kretzenbacher, Heinz L. / Hajek, John / Norrby, Catrin. 2013. Address and introduction across two pluricentric languages in intercultural communication. In: Amorós Negre, Carla et al. (eds.), Exploring linguistic standards in non-dominant varieties of pluricentric languages. Vienna: Peter Lang, 259-274.


Hanna Lappalainen (University of Helsinki): Visual material as stimulus in studies of address practices

Studies of address practices in authentic interaction have increased recently (e.g. Kretzenbacher 2011; Norrby et. al. 2015). This is a desirable development, because earlier research has mainly discussed the reported usage of address forms, and attitudes towards their use (e.g. Clyne et. al. 2009). However, surveys are still needed in order to get quickly a wide picture of address practices in a particular society or in order to map the most relevant factors for a deeper analysis. They are also useful in studies of cross-cultural similarities and dissimilarities (e.g. Ogiermann 2009; Pajusalu et. al. 2010). My paper focuses on the use of photos and other visual material in the study of conceptions and attitudes towards addressing.  

One of the restrictions of questionnaires is the difficulty to describe all the factors having an effect on the choice of an address form. The tests like the Discourse Complementation Task (DCT) aim to take into consideration several variables (e.g. age, familiarity, imposition; see e.g. Peterson 2010), but written descriptions cannot include all the relevant factors. For instance, if a questionnaire includes the question “How would you address a 40 year-old woman”, respondents may think of different women in different roles and clothing, and so they focus on their attitudes towards different subjects. With visual support, they see what a person looks like.

In order to improve methods in the study of forms of address and to standardize the variables focused on, we have tested the usage of visual material when analyzing the reported usage of address forms and mental images related to them. The aim has been that the informants base their attitude on the person they see in the picture instead of images they might have of a imaginary interlocutor.

In my paper, I shall present two recent experiments in which visual material has been utilized. In the first experiment, the photos of imaginary clients were used in a questionnaire for studying the reported use of address forms among the staff working in harbors of Helsinki and Tallinn as well as among pharmacists. The photos were related to make-believe scenarios.

In the second experiment which was implemented in a shopping center in Helsinki, real-size and full-length photos of six Finnish public figures were used. The passers-by were asked to choose one of the figures and to imagine that they would meet him in the shopping center. Their task was to address him and ask permission in order to get in the same photo with him. These requests were video-recorded for research data.

In my paper, the focus is not on concrete results of these experiments but I will consider their advantages and disadvantages from the methodological point of view. I will also present some ideas or how to develop them further.


Clyne, Michael – Norrby, Catrin & Warren, Jane (2009). Language and Human Relations. Address in contemporary language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kretzenbacher, Heinz L. (2011). Addressing policy on the web: Netiquettes and emerging policies of language use in German Internet forums. In: Catrin Norrby &John Hajek (eds.), Uniformity and Diversity in Language Policy. Global Perspectives. Bristol: Multilingual Matters 2011, 226–241.

Norrby, Catrin – Wide, Camilla – Lindström, Jan – Nilsson, Jenny (2015). Interpersonal relationships in medical consultations. Comparing Sweden Swedish and Finland Swedish address practices. Journal of Pragmatics 84, 121–138.

Ogiermann, Eva (2009). Politeness and in-directness across cultures: A comparison of English, German, Polish and Russian requests. Journal of Politeness Research, 5(2), 189–216.

Pajusalu, Renate – Vihman, Virve – Klaas, Birute –Pajusalu, Karl (2010). Forms of address across languages: Formal and informal second person pronoun usage among Estonia’s linguistic communities. Intercultural Pragmatics 1, vol. 7, 75–101.

Peterson, Elizabeth (2010). Perspective and politeness in Finnish requests. Pragmatics 20/3, 401–423.


Karen López Alonzo (The Ohio State University): Use and perception of the pronominal trio vos,, usted in a Nicaraguan Community in Miami, Florida

This study investigates how, in a context of dialect contact and possible shift, members of the Nicaraguan community in Miami use and talk about the 2sg pronominal trio vos, tú, usted. This paper explores the patterns of personal pronoun choice, their frequency, their contexts, interlocutors’ awareness of the switch between vos and, and generational differences.

Subjects for this study are Nicaraguans and Nicaraguan-Americans living in Miami. The data collection procedures included: observations, 12 audio recordings of interactions, 11 audio recordings of interviews, a survey indicating subject’s perception of the degree of formality of each pronoun, and a questionnaire about pronoun practice completed by 28 participants.

The data were analyzed using Silverstein’s (2003) concept of orders of indexicality as further elaborated in the study of Pittsburghese by Johnstone et al. (2006). The Miami data present us with three such orders. The first-order scenario includes voseo as an indicator of the sociodemographic identity of Nicaraguans. Second-order indexicality characterizes the shift of styles among speakers who, in the Miami context, leverage the competition between vos and that is newly available to them. The third order is the use of vos as a Nicaraguan stereotype. Overall, this framework provides insight into the function and the intentionality of pronoun practice in the discourse, and presents evidence of participants indexing a politeness distinction that includes, at times, not two pronouns but all three: vos, , and usted.

Finally, all results presented are dependent on the setting, the generation, and the communities with which speakers are in contact. Ultimately, what is observed is dialect leveling that may be rooted, at least partially, in one-on-one accommodation by Nicaraguans to the more unmarked Miami pronominal system of Cuban-Americans.


Johnstone, B., Andrus, J. & Danielson, A. (2006). Mobility, Indexicality, and the Enregisterment of “Pittsburghese.” Journal of English Linguistics, 34(2), 77-104.

Silverstein, Michael. (2003). Indexical order and the dialects of sociolinguistic life. Language and Communication, 23, 193-229.


Elizabeth Mayne (University of Texas at Austin): Native and non-native perceptions of tu vs. vous in complex relationships

In French, there are two second person pronouns, tu (singular, informal) and vous (singular formal or plural formal/informal). However, the distinction between the two is not as clear-cut as this description, and asymmetrical power relationships, or situations in which the interlocutors have more than one type of relationship with one another (e.g., an employer and employee who are also good friends) can be confusing. Situations in which the relationship is undergoing change (e.g., two acquaintances growing closer, a child who used to use vous with an adult growing older, etc.) are also prone to confusion and hesitation. Non-native speakers, particularly those whose native language does not make a similar distinction, such as English, often struggle with which pronoun of address is appropriate in a given situation.

This paper focuses on those nuanced situations in which the “rules” fail to provide both native and non-native speakers with the tools to decide which pronoun to use. Using postings from WordReference threads on tutoiement vs. vouvoiement and data collected from a sociolinguistic questionnaire on perceptions of tu and vous usage given to both native French and native English non-native French speakers, I examine the questions asked by non-native speakers and strategies proposed by both native and non-native speakers for navigating these situations. For example, expats in France post queries on WordReference asking how to address a neighbor with whom one has gotten closer over time. Other instances of uncertainty arise when the speaker is friends with a professor or boss outside of school or work, and is not sure whether to use tu in contexts outside of the hierarchical relationship.

A native speaker respondent in the questionnaire expressed a difficult situation in her personal life, relating that she has always used vous with her in-laws, but as she has gotten closer to them, she feels that using vous no longer makes sense for their relationship. As the younger person in the relationship, she is not sure how to broach the topic, so she continues to use vous with them, even though it makes her slightly uncomfortable to use this more “distancing” pronoun with people to whom she has grown close. According to Brown & Gilman (1960), her in-laws should indeed be the ones to offer a switch to tu; however, some non-native speakers who responded to the questionnaire felt they had the “power” to ask a professor (or former professor) to use tu with them. Although non-native and native speaker perceptions of these situations differ on some points, the strategies proposed by both groups in both data sets follow specific trends: (1) Asking (On peut se tutoyer? ‘Can we use tu with one another?’); (2) Waiting for the other person to say something or to make the switch (waiting for “permission”); (3) Switching to the pronoun that you want to use; (4) Avoiding the use of the pronoun (e.g., using on). This suggests that both native and (experienced) non-native speakers have an awareness of appropriate strategies to navigate these socially challenging situations.


Brown, R., & Gilman, A. (1960). The pronouns of Power and Solidarity.


Terrell Morgan & Scott Schwenter (The Ohio State University): Castilian Spanish evidence for singular-plural asymmetries in T/V Address

In studies of T/V address systems, research typically ignores plural forms in favor of their singular counterparts. In this paper, we show that there is widespread asymmetry between singular and plural T/V forms in Castilian Spanish, and that the historically T plural vosotros often serves as the plural of both (T) and usted (V). Our data consist of both qualitative and quantitative data. On the qualitative side, we use naturally occurring examples (online, in popular culture, and from our own collections), and interviews with a dozen Spaniards across three generations. Quantitatively, we offer the results of an online survey distributed via social media that polled native Castilian speakers about their pronominal choices when offered scenarios involving multiple interlocutors, some addressed as (T) and others as usted (V) in the singular.

Evidence from the online survey data demonstrates that asymmetries between singular and plural are extremely commonplace. First, the 262 respondents’ self-report of T/V choice in the singular and the plural reveals statistically significant differences, with greater T use in the plural than the singular, contra the normative view of singular-plural symmetry in Spanish grammars (Moreno de Alba 2002; RAE 2009). The results of a paired-samples t-test showed a statistically significant difference in the scores for singular pronoun choice (M= 2.95, SD= 0.90) and plural pronoun choice (M= 2.52, SD= 1.02) conditions; t(262)= 8.49, p < .0001. Second, respondent pronoun choices in three situated scenarios presented in the survey demonstrated statistically significant differences between singular and plural choice. In each scenario, respondent use of vosotros in the plural was significantly higher than their corresponding use of in the singular. The use of plural ustedes, then, is significantly reduced when compared to that of its singular counterpart usted. Overall, our results reveal clearly that the purported symmetry of the Castilian T/V system across singular and plural addressees, where tú/vosotros are symmetrically opposed to usted/ustedes, cannot be upheld.

We should not find these results too surprising, given that the tendency across Romance (and beyond) for hundreds of years has been to have a T/V distinction in the singular, but not in the plural (cf. Latin American Spanish singular vos/usted or vos/tú/usted, with plural ustedes; French singular tu/vous, with plural vous, etc.; Italian plural voi instead of Loro in formal public speech [Pendrey 1990]). In other languages, such as German, plural ihr (the alleged T form) can be used to a group of singular addressees ALL addressed as V (Sie) in the singular (Hickey 2003:409), and in some languages (e.g. Norwegian) a T/V distinction still found in the singular has been completely lost in the plural in favor of the erstwhile T form (Braun 1988). In conclusion, asymmetries between singular and plural T/V forms such as the one we have uncovered in Castilian Spanish seem to be the norm, not the exception, cross-linguistically.


Braun, Friederike. 1988. Terms of address: problems of patterns and usage in various languages and cultures. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Hickey, Raymond. 2003. The German address system: binary and scalar at once. In: Taavitsainen, Irma / Jucker, Andreas H. (eds.), Diachronic perspectives on address term systems, 401-425. Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Moreno de Alba, José G. 1992. Minucias del lenguaje. Mexico City: Fondo de Cultura Económica.

Pendrey, Kevin. 1990. Neutralización en el paradigma español de la segunda persona plural. Mester 19.1, 27-37.

Real Academia Española. 2009. Nueva gramática de la lengua española. 2 vols. Madrid: Espasa


María Irene Moyna (Texas A&M University): Usted in Uruguayan Spanish

This study explores formal address (usted) in Uruguayan Spanish (USp), a neglected aspect of this variety’s second person paradigm. It is based on a questionnaire of reported use in situations of social distance or power difference. The study found that whereas usted was still preferred in most of these contexts, there was variation depending on the addressee and on speaker variables such as provenance, gender, and age. For example, informal address was very frequent in long-term hierarchical relationships, in spite of status differences. Qualitative comments also supported the view that usted is fraught with negative connotations and is sometimes avoided, even in the absence of a suitable alternative.

Spanish is similar to most Romance languages in presenting a two-tiered second person paradigm, with V represented by usted, and T by in most varieties. However, some dialects, including USp, have a more complex system, with two pronouns on the informal pole (T1, ; T2, vos), as well as formal usted. As a result, most studies of address forms in USp focus on the competition between informal vos and (Behares 1981, Bertolotti 2011, Bertolotti & Coll 2003, Elizaincín & Díaz 1979, 1981, Mendoza 2005, Moyna & Ceballos 2008, Rona 1967, Steffen 2010) and very few analyze usted specifically (Ricci & Malán de Ricci 1977). This is partly because the ustedeo pattern is formally stable, not subject to the pronominal and verbal mixing that entangles voseo and tuteo. Moreover, usted is disappearing in an increasingly egalitarian society.

This study aimed to ascertain the current usage of usted in USp, as well as the social and pragmatic variables influencing its use. In order to find out, 579 Uruguayan respondents were asked to complete an extensive questionnaire where several items focused on situations of social distance or power difference between speaker and addressee (employee > supervisor; patient > doctor; younger speaker > older addressee; parent > school principal; client > house cleaner). In each case, respondents were given possible answers to choose from (U, T, V), and the option of filling in a response. Data were tabulated and quantified to establish the effect of speaker variables.

It was found that usted was the preferred option in most situations; however, frequencies varied by interlocutor. Ustedeo was highest with an unknown elderly addressee, followed by professionals with whom the relationship is sporadic (doctor, school principal). Informal choices increased when addressing the house cleaner, and were most frequent with supervisors. There were also differences among participants. Respondents from the interior of Uruguay were more likely than Montevideo speakers to use formal address in the workplace, and were less likely to mix formal and informal address with a single interlocutor. Women used more formal address with professionals, and more informal forms with addressees more likely to be encountered in domestic or childrearing domains. Younger speakers were more likely to select informal forms across social class (e.g., house cleaner, doctor), where older speakers preferred usted.

To summarize, although usted is receding in USp, the process is not complete nor is it uniform across speakers. Future research should explore the effect of participant social class more systematically. Additionally, it should be ascertained whether younger speakers are repurposing informal variants (tuteo, TV hybrid), as substitutes of usted, to avoid the unwanted attribution of elderly status while maintaining a distinction from familiar voseo.


Eba Munguía (Texas A&M University): Second person singular forms of address in social networks: Hondurans on Facebook

This study forms part of larger investigation dealing with the representation of forms of address (vos, tú and usted) in Honduran Spanish (Baumel-Schreffler 1995, Benavides 2003, Herranz 2007, Lipski 1994, Paez Urdaneta 1981), focusing on social and popular media (social networks, popular music and film). This study analyzes these forms of address in a context in which the written and oral forms of the language converge, creating what Levis (2007) refers to as habla escrita, or “written talk.” It was found in this study that the use of these pronouns varies according to social factors such as age, gender and location of the commenter and addressee. Commenters from Olanchito tended to be more formal than the commenters from Tegucigalpa, and men preferred vos or when commenting on a female’s profile. This study also sheds light on the coexistence of with the other two pronouns in Hondurans’ virtual written talk.

In Honduras is used very minimally and only heard in the media or formal contexts, whereas voseo is generalized throughout all social strata. This characteristic is common to all Central American countries (Benavides 2003 & Lipski 1994). In Honduras however, age and degree of familiarity are factors that trigger the pronominal use in contrast with usted. The indications of the coexistence of vos, and usted in in social networks are of special interest, since ~96% of Honduran internet users also have Facebook accounts, which enables researchers to collect significant and substantial data.

In order to carry out this study, two research questions were asked: (1) what is the frequency of the use of second singular pronouns and verbs in Honduran Spanish in social media? (2) What social factors determine those choices? In order to answer them, a total of 617 comments addressed to eight different recipients in two locations (Olanchito and Tegucigalpa) were selected, and their verbal forms (future, negative imperative, positive imperative, present indicative, present subjunctive, and preterit) and pragmatic functions (e.g., flirt, joke, advice) were evaluated quantitatively.

This study showed the preference for vos verb forms (e.g. cantás, sos, tenés, etc) usage amongst male commenters addressing male profile Facebook owners, while female commenters make preference for the use of usted. When addressing comments to a female Facebook owner males show a high preference for tuteo, while female preferred ustedeo. This study also shows a general tendency to use vos in the context of joke and usted or in the context of advice, compliments, and endearment. Lastly, the verb forms that appeared with more frequency were in the positive imperative and present indicative forms.

Finally, this study highlights the importance of exploring forms of address in social networks, wherein the spontaneous and oral forms of the language blend with the written and formal aspects. For future studies, it will also be important to compare and contrast the frequency of these forms of address in social networks with their actual oral production.


Annette Maria Myre Jørgensen (Bergen University): Vocatives and/or discourse markers

There is a general agreement that several discourse functions are covered by vocatives in Spanish oral language (Bañon 1993, Briz 2003, Stenström and Jørgensen 2008, Stenström and Jørgensen 2008). This is especially notorious in teenage language (Jørgensen and Martínez 2007, Jørgensen 2008, Jørgensen 2011), where the score of a certain type of discourse markers (Jørgensen 2007, 2012) is high, for instance: tío/a, tronco/a, hijo/a, chaval. The vocatives have different functions according to, among other aspects, their position in the utterance (Briz 1998, Leech 1999) and other interactive aspects. A question that is still open is whether the Spanish vocatives acquiring discourse marker functions should be considered discourse markers. In my opinion they should, since their pragmatic functions (Montoya 2009) weight heavier than he syntactic functions (Zwicky 1974). By analysing the different interactive functions of the vocatives tía/o, tronca/o, chaval, etc. in the utterances from the Corpus Oral Lenguaje Adolescente-corpus ( and the relevant theories on vocatives (Hymes and Gumperz 1972, Dini 1996, Díaz Pérez 1997, Gelbes and Estrada 2003, Cuenca 2004, Rigatuso 2006, Rigatuso 2007, Costa 2008, Schaden 2010), I intend to list up several arguments for vocatives to be considered as discourse markers.


Bañon, A. M. (1993). El vocativo en español : propuestas para su análisis lingüístico. Barcelona, Octaedro.

Briz, A. (1998). El español coloquial en la conversación. Esbozo de pragmagramática. Barcelona, Ariel. Briz, A. (2003). La interacción entre jóvenes. Español coloquial, argot y lenguaje juvenil. Lexicografía y Lexicología en Europa y América. Homenaje a Günther Hensch. M. T. Echenique Elizondo and J. P. Sánchez Méndez. Madrid, Gredos: 141-154.

Costa, J. (2008) Formas nominales de tratamiento: variación geolectal y funciones conversacionales. Actas. XIV Congreso Internacional de ALFAL

Cuenca, M. J. (2004). El receptor en el text: el vocatiu. Estudis romànics, 26: 25.

Díaz Pérez, J. C. (1997). Sobre la gramaticalización en el tratamiento

nominal  Revista de Filologkí Románica, 1(14): 16.

Dini, E. G. (1996). Algo más sobre el vocativo. Lo spagnolo di oggi. A. i. italiani. Milano, Bulzone Editore / AISPI/ Centro virtual Cervantes. II: 57-62.

Gelbes, S. R. and A. Estrada (2003). Vocativos insultivos vs. vocativos insultativos: acerca del caso de boludo.  Anuario de Estudios Filológicos XXVI: 335-353.

Hymes, D. and J. J. Gumperz (1972). Directions in Sociolinguistics : The ethnography of communication. New York, Holt Rinehart and Winston.

Jørgensen, A. (2008). Tío y tía como marcadores en el lenguaje juvenil de Madrid. Actas del XXXVII Simposio Internacional de la Sociedad Española de Lingüística. I. O. Moreno, M. C. Velarde and R. G. Ruiz. Pamplona, Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Navarra: 387-396.

Jørgensen, A. M. (2011). Las formas de tratamiento en el lenguaje juvenil. Las formas de tratamiento en español y en portugués: Variación, cambios y funciones conversacionales. L. Rebollo and C. Lopes. San Pablo: 1-19.

Jørgensen, A. M. and J. A. Martinez (2007) “Los marcadores del discurso del lenguaje juvenil de Madrid.” ReVEL: Revista Virtual de Estudos da Linguagem 5: 1-19.

Leech, G. N. (1999). The distribution and functions of vocatives in American and British English conversation. Out of corpora: Studies in honour of Stig Johansson. H. Hasselgård and S. Oksefjell. Amsterdam, Rodopi: 107-118.

Montoya, J. J. G. (2009). El vocativo en la interacción escritor-lector. Mutatis Mutandis 2(2): 313- 316.

Rigatuso, E. (2006). Desde el pibe hasta la nona. Un aspecto del contacto español/ italiano en el español de la Argentina: Italianismos léxicos en el sistema de tratamientos bonaerenses. II Congreso Internacional de la Lengua Española, Boletín de la Academia Argentina de Letras. P. Barcia. Buenos Aires, Academia Argentina de Letras: 39-72.

Rigatuso, E. (2007). ¡Che, vos, pibe! Uso y valores comunicativos del vocativo en español bonaerense actual. La modernización del sudoeste bonaerense. Reflexiones y polémicas en el ámbito educativo, lingüístico y literario. N. Burgos and E. M. Rigatuso. Bahia Blanca, Sec. De Comunicación y Cultura, Universidad Nacional del Sur: 81-93.

Schaden, G. (2010). Vocatives: A Note on Addressee-Management. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 16.

Stenström, A.-B. and A. M. Jørgensen (2008). La función fática de los apelativos en el habla juvenil de Madrid y Londres. Estudio contrastivo. Actas del III Coloquio EDICE. A. Briz, A. Hidalgo, M. Albelda, J. Contreras and N. Hernández Flores. Valencia, Universidad de Valencia. 18: 4: 355-365.

Stenström, A.-B. and A. M. Jørgensen (2008). A question of politeness? A contrastive study of phatic language in teenage conversation. Special Issue of Pragmatics 18(4): 636-657.

Zwicky, A. (1974). Hey, whatsyourname! Stanford, Stanford.


María Elena Placencia & Amanda Lower (Birkbeck University of London): Addressing among young Ecuadorian and Spanish women on Facebook

Sifianou (2013), in her analysis of the impact of globalisation on (im)politeness, questions the perception that greater interconnectedness brought about by globalisation results in cultural homogenisation.  We address this topic by focussing on address practices among young Ecuadorian and Spanish women, based on a randomly selected corpus of Facebook interactions.  The women in our data sets are residents of Quito (Ecuador) and Seville (Spain), belonging to geographically distant communities and speaking two different national varieties of Spanish.  However, because they use the same social networking platform with its own influences on interaction (cf. Placencia & Lower, 2013), some commonalities in communicative patterns across the groups can be expected. Nonetheless, the question remains as to how different face-to-face communicative practices, like addressing, translate in virtual environments and whether they are undergoing homogenisation.

Address forms have been recognised as central to managing interpersonal relations (cf. Bargiela et al., 2002; Clyne, Norrby, & Warren, 2009).  Addressing is a practice that, while widely studied in many languages, including Spanish (see for example Hummel, Kluge, & Vázquez Laslop, 2010 compilation of studies), has not received much attention in online contexts (cf. Placencia, 2015).

Adopting a variational pragmatics perspective (Schneider & Barron, 2008), this study builds on works on addressing, (im)politeness (cf. Spencer-Oatey, 2008 [2000]) and computer-mediated discourse (cf. Herring, 2007; Yus, 2010).  Our results show that Ecuadorian and Spanish women in our study have a similar repertoire in terms of the categories of address forms that they employ; however, there are some differences.  In relation to overall categories, for example, Spanish women use first names more frequently than any other category, whereas family terms is the category with the highest incidence among the Ecuadorian women in our study. Regarding sub-categories, a wider range of forms are employed by Ecuadorian women for family terms, for example. Another difference is that Ecuadorian women use a higher proportion of internal and external modification mechanisms that serve to enhance the address form. For example, with friendship terms they personalize them through the use of possessives and diminutives, including creative forms.  The study also highlights certain features specific to the medium, such as the use of vowel lengthening of first names which occurred more frequently in the Spanish data.  All in all, our results support Sifianou’s (2013: 86) suggestion that globalisation does not necessarily mean cultural homogenisation.  They also support some findings from studies on regional pragmatic variation in Spanish from face-to-face contexts (see García & Placencia, 2011).


Bargiela, Francesca, Boz, Corinne, Gokzadze, Lily, Hamza, Abdurrahman, Mills, Sara, & Rukhadze, Nino. (2002). Ethnocentrism, politeness and naming strategies. Working Papers on the Web, 3 (accessed 22 May 2014).

Clyne, Michael, Norrby, Catrin, & Warren, Jane. (2009). Language and Human Relations: Styles of Address in Contemporary Language. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press.

García, Carmen, & Placencia, María Elena. (2011). Estudios de variación pragmática (sub) regional en español: visión panorámica. En C. García & M. E. Placencia (Eds.), Estudios de variación pragmática en español (pp. 29-54). Buenos Aires: Dunken.

Herring, Susan C. (2007). A faceted classification scheme for computer-mediated discourse. Language@Internet.  Available at

Hummel, Martin, Kluge, Bettina, & Vázquez Laslop, María Eugenia. (2010). Formas y fórmulas de tratamiento en el mundo hispánico. México D.F./ Graz: El Colegio de México/Karl Franzens Universität

Placencia, María Elena. (2015). Address forms and relational work in e-commerce: The case of service encounter interactions in MercadoLibre Ecuador En M. d. l. O. Hernández-López & L. Fernández-Amaya (Eds.), A Multidisciplinary Approach to Service Encounters (pp. 37-64). Leiden: Brill.

Placencia, María Elena, & Lower, Amanda. (2013). Your kids are stinking cute. Complimenting behavior on Facebook among family and friends. Intercultural Pragmatics, 10, 617-646.

Schneider, Klaus P. , & Barron, Anne. (2008). Where pragmatics and dialectology meet: Introducing variational pragmatics. En K. P. Schneider & A. Barron (Eds.), Variational Pragmatics: A Focus on Regional Varieties in Pluricentric Languages (pp. 1-32). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Sifianou, Maria  (Spanish Pragmatics). (2013). The impact of globalisation on politeness and impoliteness. Journal of Pragmatics, 55, 86-102.

Spencer-Oatey, Helen. (2008 [2000]). Face, (Im)Politeness and Rapport. En H. Spencer-Oatey (Ed.), Culturally Speaking.  Culture, Communication and Politeness Theory (pp. 11-47). London: Continuum.

Yus, Francisco. (2010). Ciberpragmática 2.0: nuevos usos del lenguaje en Internet. Barcelona: Planeta.


María José Serrano (Universidad de La Laguna): Addressing hearer–participants in oral media discourse: Variation of the second-person objects in Spanish

Mass media interactions occur in institutional environments, implying that the roles of the speakers participating in these interactions are quite different from those in spontaneous conversations, that is, professionals are engaged in such interactions, (usually broadcasters and journalists) who normally address a wide and anonymous audience that is not always present. Therefore, the traditional dyadic speaker–hearer relationship cannot fully accommodate media interactions (cf. O’Keeffe 2006), and the role of the hearer must be redefined. Despite the diverse theoretical proposals made regarding the hearing status of the media audience (hearer, listener, addressee, overhearer, eavesdropper, etc.) (v. Clark & Carlson 1982), a convenient hearer– participant categorization that can be made in media discourse is between hearer and addressee. The hearer is defined as the wide and diffuse audience to which a media speaker is speaking to, whereas the latter is considered as the hearer(s)–participant(s) who is or are directly indexed vocatively by the speaker, usually (but not necessarily) due to his/her/their presence in the interaction.

This paper will analyze the different ways of addressing the audience (hearers and addressees) by using the singular and plural second-person objects and its variants (omitted or expressed) (te/a ti–‘you/to you’, le/les– -a usted, a ustedes–‘you/ to you’ [singular and plural]) as a case of syntactic variation, which in turn helps create communicative styles in discourse (Aijón Oliva & Serrano 2013). Such variation will be examined in a corpus of oral contemporary Spanish, namely the Corpus Conversacional del Español de Canarias (CCEC), which comprises a number of transliterations of regional television and radio genres (news programmes, informative debates, talk shows and magazines) constituting a total of 171,258 words. This variation will be measured by means of the statistical package GoldVarb Lion (Sankoff, Tagliamonte & Smith 2012), which calculates the percentages and cross-tabulations of variants. The speakers participating in these genres were classified according to their socioprofessional affiliations (journalists, politicians, private individuals and professionals) and also by their sex/gender.

Results indicate that the variants used to index hearers or addressees are unequally distributed across the media genres and also by the speakers’ socioprofessional affiliations and sex/gender. As would be expected, the plural omitted variant was more often used when speaking to hearers (1), whereas the expressed singular is frequently used to signal an addressee (2). The qualitative and quantitative analysis of this variation is demonstrated to be sociostylistically patterned in media discourse.

(1) Pues vamos a contarles [a ustedes] qué traen hoy los periódicos de la jornada\pues sí Gisela\hoy los titulares están marcados por la economía\ (CCEC ETT28-1> ‘We are going to tell you [‘to you’ pl.] what the journals include today, yes Gisela, today’s headlines are underlined by the economy’

(2) Esta mañana estábamos viéndote a ti y a Juan\ pero hay que decir que ustedes estan trabajando más de tarde y noche (CCEC ) ‘This morning we were seeing you and John, but it must be said that you are working mostly at the evening and night’


Aijón Oliva, M.A. & M.J. Serrano .2013. Style in Syntax: Investigating Variation in Spanish Pronoun Subjects. Bern: Peter Lang.

Clark, H.H. & T. Carlson .1982. “Hearers and speech acts”. Language 58, 2:332-373. O’Keeffe, A. 2006. Investigating media discourse. London: Routledge.

Sankoff, D., Tagliamonte, S. & E. Smith. 2012. GoldVarb Lion. A Multivariate Analysis Application for Macintosh and Windows. University of Toronto/ University of Ottawa.


Wojciech Sosnowski (The Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences): Social, cultural and semantic aspects of forms of address in Slavonic languages

Over the last two decades, the most profound changes in Slavonic languages have taken place in the semantics of forms of address. The author of the term “honorification” in Polish linguistics — Roman Huszcza (2006) — has long indicated the importance of studying this issue. Roman Huszcza understands the term “honorification” as a special type of meaning included in the utterance: the information about the social relationship between the sender and the recipient of the linguistic message, as well as between the sender and the hearer, and between the sender and the main participant of the event described in the message.

My research on honorification is mainly based on contemporary corpora, both monolingual and multilingual. The languages I selected for the present study come from three different groups of Slavonic languages: South Slavonic languages (Bulgarian), West Slavonic languages (Polish) and East Slavonic languages (Russian). These languages have developed complex grammatical and formal systems for expressing honorification. My observations in this study pertain to three different aspects: (a) sociological: words such as towarzysz ‘comrade’, obywatel ‘citizen’ and kolega ‘friend, colleague’; (b) cultural: names and patronyms, e.g. Вера Петровна, second person plural forms, or the Polish pan (‘Sir, Mr.’), pani (‘Madam, Mrs.’), państwo (‘Mr. and Mrs.’); and (c) semantic: how forms of address function as discrete modal operators in the languages investigated.

Wierzbicka (1970) classified forms of address as pragmatic operators. In my study, I classified forms of address as “discrete operators”, whenever they introduced changes to the semantic structure of a predication. I will use selected examples of forms of address to illustrate how such expressions function as discrete operators of imperativeness and optativity. It is essential to investigate all of the abovementioned aspects of forms of address in order to understand how they function in natural languages.


Huszcza R., 2006, Honoryfikatywność. Gramatyka. Pragmatyka. Typologia, Warsaw: Polskie Wydawnictwo Naukowe.

Wierzbicka A., Descriptions or quotations? In: A. J. Greimas et al. (eds), Sign, Language, Culture. The Hague: Mouton. 627-644.


Thoai Ton (University of New England, Australia): Ellipses of address terms in casual communication events in Vietnamese

Ellipsis, a word derived from the Ancient Greek élleipsis “omission”, is a linguistic phenomenon that has been widely studied over decades across languages that include, for example, Chinese (Li & Thompson 1979, Arabic (Eid 1983), English (Teddiman & Newman 2007), Japanese (Yoneda 1986, 1990) et cetera. Unlike other languages in which ellipses of address terms can only be found in certain contexts, for example, by a Japanese husband when talking to his wife, or in the case of Arabic subject pronouns, in the Vietnamese language, both subjects and objects can become elliptical, regardless of their person reference.

This study investigates ellipsis as a common linguistic phenomenon in casual conversations in Vietnamese, and argues that ellipses of address terms in Vietnamese do not necessarily refer to impoliteness or deficiency as Wardhaugh (2010) suggested. This is a qualitative study that employs ethnography of communication and content analysis as major techniques of methodology. Data was collected from observations of daily-life conversations as well as from popular Vietnamese telenovellas. It is hoped that the results of the study will make a significant contribution to our understanding of functional grammar in general, and, in particular, ellipses of address terms as a socio-linguistic trait in the Vietnamese language.


Braun, F. 1988. Terms of Address: Problems of Patterns and Usage in Various Languages and Cultures. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

Cao Xuan Hao. 2004. Tiếng Việt: Sơ thảo ngữ pháp chức năng. (Vietnamese: A Functional Grammar). Hanoi: Social Sciences Publishing House.

Eid, M. 1983. On the communication function of subject pronouns in Arabic. Journal of Linguistics Vol 19 (2): 287-303.

Li, C. & Thompson, S. 1979. Third-person pronouns and zero-anaphora in Chinese discourse. In Givón, T. (Ed.), Syntax and Semantics 12: Discourse and Syntax. New York: Academy Press, pp. 311-336.

Teddiman, L. & Newman, J. 2007. Subject Ellipsis in English: Construction of and Findings from a Diary Corpus. Presented at the 26th conference on Lexis and Grammar, Bonifacio, 2-6 October 2007.

Wardhaugh, R. 2010. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (6th Ed.). Oxford: Wiley- Blackwell.

Yoneda, M. 1986. Huuhu no yobikata- Ankeito choosa no kekka kara- (How to call each other between husband and wife – A report from the questionnaire-) Gengi Seikatsu. Vol 416. Tokyo: Chikuma Shobo: 18-21.


Chimwemwe Undi & Verónica Loureiro-Rodríguez (University of Manitoba): All My Natives: The use of “native” as an in-group term in the Aboriginal hip-hop community

This paper is part of a larger research project in which we look at how Aboriginal rappers use hip-hop as a means with which to experience and engage Aboriginal Canadian identities, while simultaneously asserting authentic membership to global hip-hop culture. In this presentation, we will focus on how the address term native is being used and perceived by self-identified Aboriginal rappers and college students, as well as on its use in social media. Our study will reveal a connection between the use of native and participants’ identification and interaction with hip-hop culture, especially rap music.

Rahman (2012, p. 159) identifies the use of nigger by young Black people, who she deems the hip-hop generation, and who reclaim the slur by using the repurposed nigga as an “expression of a proactive and independent attitude founded in hip-hop identity”. The use of this form of address is central to the projection of an authentic and autonomous hip-hop identity, one which replaces nigger and its racist connotations with nigga, which is used as an in-group term and expresses a sense of pride and cool solidarity, especially among Black males (Smitherman, 1994). However, nigga is only available to Black rappers, who can use it as a positive in-group solidarity marker with one another and with non-Black rappers, but non-Black rappers cannot reciprocate (Cutler, 2009), leaving them to find an alternative way to address one another. Among Aboriginal Canadian rappers, native appears to function as a culturally appropriate substitution for nigga, occurring in rap lyrics where nigga might otherwise.

Drawing from the lyrics of Aboriginal Canadian hip-hop acts (including Wab Kinew, Eekwol, Hellnbak, Jon C, Team RezOfficial and Winnipeg Boyz), social media, and interviews with self-identified Aboriginal Canadian post- secondary students, our paper will show how the term native has been reclaimed as a positive in-group term of address, specially among speakers who identify and interact with hip-hop culture.

While not strictly analogous to the reclamation and repurposing of nigga, due to the lack of similar historically racist connotation, native is nonetheless used to express pride in their marginal racialized identity, an identity navigated through and alongside belonging to the hip-hop nation. The use of native, along with code-mixing and the indexing of glocal varieties, serves to shift hip-hop from its prototypical Black American expression and towards a variety which better illuminates the unique cultural experiences of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada.


Cutler, C. (2009). “You shouldn’t be rappin’, you should be skateboardin’ the X-games”: The Coconstruction of Whiteness in an MC Battle. In S. H. Alim, I. Awad, & A. Pennycook (Eds.), Global Linguistic Flows: Hip Hop Cultures, Identities, and the Politics of Language (pp. 79-94). New York and London: Routledge.

Rahman, J. (2012). The N Word: Its History and Use in the African American Community. Journal of English Linguistics, 40(2), 137-171.

Smitherman, G. (1994). Black talk: Words and phrases from the hood to the amen corner. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Matthew Urichuk & Verónica Loureiro-Rodríguez (University of Manitoba): Brocatives: A pilot study of nominal forms of address in Winnipeg

This study is part of larger ongoing project on nominal terms of address in Winnipeg (Canada). In this presentation we will discuss the results of a pilot self-report survey on the use of the vocatives or familiarizers (Biber et al., 1999) dude, man, bro, and brah/bruh. Our findings will shed light on how gender, age, and social distance influence the use of these terms of address.

Data for this pilot project was gathered through an online survey that replicated Kiesling’s (2004) self-report survey on the use of dude. Respondents were asked how often they used the terms dude, man, bro, and brah/bruh, and whether they would use them with particular addressees (i.e. significant other, close friend, acquaintance, stranger, sibling, parent, boss) using a Likert scale (very likely – unlikely). A link to the survey was distributed through Facebook and Reddit.

Preliminary statistical analysis of 147 responses (96 males, 50 females, aged 16-63) suggests that man is the most used vocative, followed by dude, and the only one showing a statistically significant age dependence (p-value under 3%), with participants in their 30s reporting a lower use than younger and older generations. We found that use of man and dude is not affected by the gender of the speaker; it is only affected by the gender of the addressee. Males and females reported similar uses of bro, but statistically significant differences across genders were found in the use of this vocative depending on the addressee, with males using bro to address parents, bosses, professors, and strangers more frequently than their female counterparts. However, both genders were very unlikely to use this vocative to address these listeners. Bro is reported to be used a statistically significant amount more than its variants brah/bruh, regardless the gender of the speaker. Brah/bruh appears to be the least used vocative, with males using it more than females, a difference in use that was statistically significant. Results further showed that male speakers were more likely to use brah/bruh to address a female listener if they were in a close relationship.

Our preliminary findings suggest that male and female Winnipeggers use dude, man, bro similarly, with social distance and gender of the addressee being the most important factors determining the use of each of these vocatives. Brah/bruh is the only vocative to show statistically significant gender dependence, hinting at a potential covert prestige status. Additional data will be gathered during June-August 2015 by means of an updated version of this survey and natural observation to offer a more comprehensive and nuanced description of the use of these vocatives across genders and age groups.


Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., & Finegan, E. (1999). Longman Grammar of Spoken and Written English. Harlow: Pearson.

Kiesling, S. F. (2004). Dude. American Dialect Society, 79(3), 281-305.


María Eugenia Vázquez Laslop (El Colegio de México): Mexican Spanish address-term systems in presidential election debates (1994 and 2012)

Presidential election debates in Mexico are a relative recent political practice. Mexico began a long transition to democracy in the 1960s, when the State party showed its first signs of decadence, and reached the end of a first period in 2000, when an opposition candidate won the presidential election. The first presidential election debate was held in 1994, under a very rigid format, which was not the best scenery for the promotion of face-to-face interaction among the three opponents. The last one took place in 2012, with four candidates under a more sophisticated debate format, still rigid, but with more spaces for a real argumentation contest. In this presentation I compare the uses of vocatives and second person systems in both debates, in order to identify possible symptomatic changes in the dynamics of Mexican political debates interaction.

The first innovation observed in the 2012 debate is the use of T-forms in a formal communicative situation. Although vocatives were more frequent in both debates (almost 50% in 1994), grammatical and vocative address-term systems forms were more distributed in 2012 than in 1994. This data will be analyzed according to the following variables: participant-roles, address-terms referents, discursive acts (salutation, proposition, argumentation, farewell, etc.) and debate format. Discussion will consider that 21st.-century debates include in a more direct address-term system both citizens (with T-forms, and plural T~V-forms) and opponents (with V-forms, and vocatives, to identify the target of confrontation.)


Becerra, Ricardo, Pedro Salazar and José Woldenberg (2005 [2000]), La mecánica del cambio político en México. Elecciones, partidos y reformas. 3rd. ed., México: Cal y Arena.

Vázquez Laslop, María Eugenia and Leonor Orozco (2010), “Formas de tratamiento del español en México”. In M. Hummel, B. Kluge and M. E. Vázquez Laslop (eds.), Formas y fórmulas de tratamiento en el mundo hispánico, México: El Colegio de México: 247-269.

Vázquez Laslop, María Eugenia (2014), “El discurso político en México (1968-1994): la emergencia del diálogo”. In R. Barriga Villanueva and P. Martín Butragueño (dirs.), Historia sociolingüística de México. Espacio, contacto y discurso político, vol. 3, México: El Colegio de México: 1783-1895.


Roel Vismans (University of Sheffield): Politeness and address: A theoretical exploration

Brown & Gilman (1960), regularly quoted as the beginning of modern address research, is usually presented as a seminal study in sociolinguistics. And indeed, rereading it, one is struck by the fact that it concerns, among other things, the language of different classes. Yet, the paper also quickly found its way into pragmatics, and in particular politeness theory. Brown & Levinson (1978, 1987), leading the first wave of politeness theory, make predictions about the use of address pronouns. In their model, T is characteristic of positive politeness strategy 4 (Brown & Levinson 1987: 107ff): ‘Use in-group identity markers’. It belongs to the largest of three subcategories of such positive politeness strategies, ‘Claim common ground’ (ibid. 102-103). V, on the other hand, is a specification of negative politeness strategy 7, ‘Impersonalize S and H’, through the ‘pluralization of the “you” and “I” pronouns’ (ibid. 198ff), which Brown & Levinson associate with power and distance. However, politeness theory has seen quite a lot of debate since the original publication of Brown & Levinson in 1978. More recent researchers, such as Watts (2003) or Kádár & Haugh (2013) do not frame politeness in a theoretical polarity model, but study it from an everyday perspective in which participants in every conversation constantly recreate politeness from scratch.  It is in this context that Clyne et al. (2009: 25) write: ‘address practices are relative and open to discursive negotiation.’

This paper aims to explore the relationship between politeness and address further, and to encourage a theoretical discussion among address researchers, by asking questions like the following. How can address research benefit from the latest theoretical insights into politeness research and vice versa? Are there aspects of address that may be better captured by other, perhaps more overtly sociolinguistic, theoretical frameworks? How do such frameworks (politeness and other) contribute to theorising address? And do we need a theoretical framework for address research in the first place?


Brown, R. & Gilman, A. (1960) [1972]. The pronouns of power and solidarity. In P.O. Giglioli (Red.), Language and social context (pp. 252-282). Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Brown, P. & Levinson, S.C. (1987). Politeness. Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Clyne, M., Norrby, C. & Warren, J. (2009). Language and human relations. Styles of address in contemporary language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kádár, D. & Haugh, M. (2013). Understanding Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Watts, R. (2003). Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Joseph R. Weyers (College of Charleston): Cross-national advertising in Spanish: Forms of address in commercial signage in the US & Mexico

In Home Depot USA, the Spanish-language signage that one finds addresses consumers with the informal . In Lowe’s USA, the same target audience is addressed with the respectful usted. In Home Depot Mexico and Lowe’s Mexico, both stores’ signage uses , as is common throughout the Spanish-speaking world (cf. Weyers 2011). Other cross-national chains demonstrate similar variability. Why do some retail stores address their customers differently on different sides of the border, while others do not?

This study compares trends in the use of forms of address in the Spanish-language commercial signage  of U.S. based retail stores that operate in the United States and Mexico. It is based on observations made in four locations, two in each country: Charleston, SC; Miami, FL; Guadalajara, Jalisco; and Monterrey, Nuevo León. Seven cross-national examples provide the basis for the analysis and discussion, although data was collected from 41 sources.  Two research questions guide the study:  1. Does the same U.S. retail store address its Spanish-speaking U.S. and Mexican customers in the same way?; and 2. If there is a difference , how might we explain it in cultural terms?  

Previous research shows that (or vos where it is used) is the most common form of address in commercial advertising in the Spanish-speaking world (Weyers 2011; Weyers 2009). Use of the pronoun of solidarity creates a sense of trust among consumers; it is part of a politeness strategy in marketing that does not necessarily reflect interpersonal usage (Scollon & Scollon 2000; Ferrer 1995). Interpersonally, Mexico is a hierarchical society (Hofstede 2010), where deferential politeness systems are common (Brasfeder 2004; Bravo 2003). This discrepancy in forms of address that are used in interpersonal communication versus commercially in Mexico guides us to an explanation of the aforementioned commercial inconsistencies. We find that US-based retailers that have a significant presence in Mexico (e.g. Home Depot has over 280 stores there) appear to have adopted the Mexican marketing strategy of using in their Spanish-language advertising and other signage. Conversely, those retailers whose presence in Mexico is limited (e.g. Lowe’s has 9 stores there) appear to address their US Spanish-speaking customers with the respectful usted, seemingly based on the rationale that is the most respectful way to address the multi-cultural Hispanic clientele of the United States.

This study shows that while there are similarities in the forms of address used on both sides of the border, several retail stores address their Spanish-speaking customers in the United States differently from their counterparts in Mexico. Consequently, we conclude that Spanish language commercial advertising in the United States is in its nascent stage and therefore variable, lacking the uniformity of address patterns that exists in Mexico and the rest of the Spanish-speaking world. The cultural implications of the linguistic differences we find form the crux of the discussion.


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