Chapter published in:The Social Dynamics of Pronominal Systems: A comparative approach
Edited by Paul Bouissac
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 304] 2019
► pp. 99–131
T-V address practices in Italian
Diachronic, diatopic, and diastratic analyses
The aim of this research was to examine the Italian pronouns of address by means of (1) diachronic, (2) diatopic, and (3) diastratic analyses. Drawing on corpus linguistics, we compiled a two million-word corpus made up of narrative texts written by both men and women writers from the Italian classic literature. (1) Our outcomes confirm that the most recurrent pronoun is tu, whereas Voi and Lei quantitatively come after. With respect to politeness strategies, the pronoun Voi appeared with a higher frequency during the 19th century, whereas Lei was more recurrent during the 20th and the 21st centuries. (2) Our data suggest that, unpredictably, both pronouns tu and Lei would be idiosyncratic to Southerners and Voi to Northerners in our diachronic corpus, whereas both tu and Voi appear to be typical of individuals from the South and Lei from the North in our contemporary corpus. This also confirms some tendencies: the current regional use of Voi as the V-form in the South as well as the increase in the usage of tu. (3) Men writers would tend to be more polite than women authors. Besides, women writers who supported the fascist regime tended to make use of the pronoun Voi in order to comport with its politics of pronouns. On the contrary, antifascist women had the tendency to use the pronoun Lei. Contrary to the bulk of research, the outcomes of this research emphasise men’s politeness rather than women’s while adding up crucial data on the temporal evolution of the pronouns.
Keywords: corpus, Italian, authors, literature, gender, diachronic, diatopic, diastratic, sociolinguistics, Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA)
Published online: 23 July 2019
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