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January 29 , 2009

Language and Human Relations

Styles of Address in Contemporary Language


The way in which people address one another is crucial to expressing social relationships and is closely linked with cultural values. In English we call some people by their first names, and others 'Mr' or 'Ms', followed by their surname. In some other languages there are different ways of saying 'you' depending on the degree of social distance. Exploring practices in the family, school, university, the workplace and in letters, this book reveals patterns in the varied ways people choose to address one another, from pronouns to first names, from honorifics to titles and last names. Examples are taken from contemporary English, French, German and Swedish, using rich data from focus group research, interviews, chat groups, and participant observation.

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