Language and Human Relations: Styles of Address in by Michael Clyne, Catrin Norrby, Jane Warren

By Michael Clyne, Catrin Norrby, Jane Warren

The best way humans handle each other is important to expressing social relationships and is heavily associated with cultural values. In English we name a few humans through their first names, and others 'Mr' or 'Ms', through their surname. In another languages there are alternative ways of claiming 'you' counting on the measure of social distance. Exploring practices within the kinfolk, university, collage, the office and in letters, this publication unearths styles within the assorted methods humans decide to handle each other, from pronouns to first names, from honorifics to titles and final names. Examples are taken from modern English, French, German and Swedish, utilizing wealthy information from concentration crew learn, interviews, discussion groups, and player remark.

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There is, therefore, a kind of membership categorisation (Sacks 1992: 40–8) that takes place in initial encounters. ’ With strangers, this membership categorisation is basically about trying to ‘make sense’ of the other person in terms of one’s own set of membership categories. An initial categorisation can of course be renegotiated, as further information or ‘evidence’ comes to light. We will return to the question of membership categorisation in the choice of address mode in Chapter 3. Multiple approaches for a complex issue 27 The importance of shared commonalities in address choice was noted by Brown and Gilman, back in 1960: ‘The similarities that matter [in the use of mutual T] seem to be those that make for like-mindedness or similar behaviour dispositions.

Common ground can be established at two levels: personal and communal. The personal level relates to individuals’ direct personal experience of one other and the communal level to their shared membership of a particular cultural community, that is, ‘a set of people with a shared expertise that other communities lack’ (Svennevig 1999: 56). How is this notion of ‘common ground’ relevant for an understanding of address practices? At the communal level, there is a common understanding of what the default address patterns would be within a particular cultural community.

Giles 1984, Giles, Coupland and Coupland 1991). Through convergence with or divergence from the verbal and non-verbal patterns of their interlocutor, speakers can either ‘index or achieve solidarity with or dissociation from a conversational partner reciprocally and dynamically’ (Giles, Coupland and Coupland 1991: 2). Underlying convergence is a basic human drive to establish communion with others, whereas divergence underlines a drive to express individuality (Svennevig 1999: 24); people tend to be either self-oriented or other-oriented (Kerbrat-Orecchioni 1992).

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