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7 - Address Terms

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 September 2023

Laurel J. Brinton
Affiliation:
University of British Columbia, Vancouver
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Summary

Chapter 7 examines both second-person pronouns and nominal terms of address (vocatives). In Middle English, the original singular and plural second-person pronouns came to distinguish differences between interlocutors, with the singular thou denoting lesser status/age power or increased solidarity, intimacy, or informality and the plural you denoting higher status/age/power or greater emotional distance or formality. In Early Modern English, the use of the pronouns for affective purposes was common, showing “retractability”. Loss of thou for various sociolinguistic reasons was complete by 1700, leaving English without an honorific form or a number distinction in the second person. Vocatives underwent less systematic change, but moved in the same general direction. The elaborate vocatives of Early Modern English, which delineated a person’s rank and status, were replaced by a more diffuse collection of vocatives, with preference increasingly given to first names, family names, “familiarizers,” and endearments, all of which served to increase rapport and create a sense of equality. They form part of the phenomenon of “camaraderie politeness” dominant in Present-day English.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Address Terms
  • Laurel J. Brinton, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: Pragmatics in the History of English
  • Online publication: 28 September 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009322904.008
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  • Address Terms
  • Laurel J. Brinton, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: Pragmatics in the History of English
  • Online publication: 28 September 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009322904.008
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Address Terms
  • Laurel J. Brinton, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: Pragmatics in the History of English
  • Online publication: 28 September 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009322904.008
Available formats
×