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National variation of address in pluricentric languages: The examples of Swedish and German
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism, Scandinavian Languages.
2013 (English)In: Pluricentricity: Language Variation and Sociocognitive Dimensions / [ed] Augusto Soares da Silva, Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2013, 243-270 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This study contributes to the pragmatic dimension of pluricentric languages, an aspect that to date has been studied to a lesser extent than their lexis, morphosyntax and phonology. It compares patterns of address and perceptions of what constitutes “appropriate” address in Swedish and German, two pluricentric languages each with a clearly dominant variety. German and Swedish data were collected at five urban locations (Gothenburg in Sweden, Vasa/Vaasa in Finland, Mannheim and Leipzig in Germany and Vienna in Austria) with focus group meetings and questionnaire-based network interviews. Also, a modified questionnaire was posted in Internet forums in Swedish and German that had discussion threads on address form usage.

The data for German show that native speakers perceive distinct differences between Austrian and German standards of address and related phenomena such as greeting formulas. In Germany, variation in address practices also raises the question of what effect the division of the country from 1949 to 1989 had on the pragmatics of address.

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

Address in pluricentric languages underlines the importance of societal and sociocultural developments. Our study of German and Swedish not only shows different address practices between national centres, but also emphasizes that knowledge of address in the others’ varieties is largely stereotypical. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2013. 243-270 p.
, Applications of Cognitive Linguistics, ISSN 1861-4078 ; 24
Keyword [en]
address, Swedish, German, variation, social deixis, workplace, computer mediated communication, service encounters
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-97158DOI: 10.1515/9783110303643.243ISI: 000347833100010ISBN: 978-11-030347-6ISBN: 978-3-11-030364-3OAI: diva2:675967

International Conference on Pluricentric Languages, September, 2010, Braga, Portugal

Available from: 2013-12-05 Created: 2013-12-05 Last updated: 2016-03-04Bibliographically approved

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