A Sociolinguistic analysis of address forms in Yoruba

Language in Society (Impact Factor: 1.19). 08/1995; 24(04):515 - 535. DOI: 10.1017/S004740450001900X


This article provides a descriptive analysis of the entire system of address forms in Yoruba, a Defoid language of the Niger-Congo phylum, spoken principally in the western part of Nigeria and to a lesser extent in the Republics of Benin and Togo. With data from short radio and TV plays, unobtrusive observation of actual usage, and introspection, it was discovered that the choices made by interlocutors are guided by the perceived social relationship that exists between them. The principal indices of this among the Yoruba are age, social status, and kinship. Nevertheless, certain peculiarities are noticeable. For instance, the dichotomy of power vs. solidarity (Brown & Gilman 1960) becomes blurred with respect to Yoruba kinship terms of address; thus solidarity does not necessarily imply equality among the Yoruba. (Politeness, address, kinship, Africa, Yoruba)

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    • "Cao's (2007) study of address forms in Chinese personal letters found that age is a significant determinant of the choice of address forms and that females tend to use familiarity-oriented terms to emphasise emotional bond with recipients while males tend to use status-oriented terms to stress role-relationships. Oyetade's (1995) study on how socio-cultural factors such as age, gender, and the beliefs and norms of the Yoruba people in Nigeria influence the use of address has led to a considerable number of studies with a similar intent in several African countries such as Ghana (Afful, 1998), Zimbabwe (Mashiri, 1999, 2000), and Botswana (Akindele, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: Address terms and reference terms are common but key naming behaviours that are enacted in various social interactions. Thus, unsurprisingly, they have received much attention in sociolinguistic research since the 1960s. The use of these two communicative acts in the academic setting, however, seems under-researched. This study, therefore, investigated address terms and reference terms students used for faculty in a public university in Ghana, utilizing Scott’s (1990) sociological theory on resistance to domination. An ethnographic as well as a triangulated approach, comprising participant and non-participant observations, semi-structured interview and introspection, was used in the study. Analysis of the data revealed three major findings. First, students used three principal forms of address, namely titles, kinship terms and nicknames for faculty. Second, students used titles, personal names and nicknames as the major reference terms for faculty. Finally, address terms and reference terms functioned as symbols of domination and resistance to domination as well as markers of identities which were co-constructed by students. The study has implications for theory, intercultural communication and further research.
    Sociolinguistic Studies 01/2012; 6(3):491-517. DOI:10.1558/sols.v6i3.491
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    • "Considering the significance of terms of address in reflecting the cultural structure of a society, the current study intends to investigate different patterns of address forms of spouses in different social strata in Iran and to discuss what these patterns reflect about the power and solidarity relationship of spouses in the present society of Iran since as Thome-Williams (2004, p.85) states "the use of forms of address in a language indicates the kinds ofrelationship that one wants to maintain, social distance or solidarity". In this respect, Oyetade (1995) defines address terms as words or expressions used in interactive, dyadic and face-to-face situations to designate the person being talked to. "
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    ABSTRACT: The current study aims to investigate different terms that spouses apply in order to address each other in different social strata in Iran and to discuss what these patterns reflect about the power and solidarity relationships of spouses in the present society of Iran. To this end, using a social class questionnaire, 97 participants were stratified to upper-middle, middle and lower-middle classes and then the patterns used by them were specified. Analysing the data suggests that Iran's religious and patriarchal society play important roles in the way that spouses address each other. Furthermore, it suggests that with the increase of educated and working women, the relationship between spouses is moving towards solidarity; however, power has found new ways of manifestations.
    03/2011; 3(1). DOI:10.5296/ijl.v3i1.721
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    • "Forms of address have their roots in sociocultural context of a society. Oyetade (1995) defines address terms as words or expressions used in interactive, dyadic and face-to-face situations to designate the person being talked to. Leech (1999) considers that terms of address are an important formulaic verbal behavior well recognized in the sociolinguistic literature as they signal transactional, interpersonal and deictic ramifications in human relationships. "
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    ABSTRACT: As an important feature of interface between language and society, address terms can provide valuable sociolinguistic information about the interlocutors, their relationship and their circumstances. As a result, in the past few decades address terms in different languages have been studied from different angles and with varying focus. In line with those studies this article focuses on identifying different types of addressing terminology that Persian interlocutors may use in different contexts. Personal names, general and occupation titles, kinship related terms, religious oriented expressions, honorifics, terms of intimacy, personal pronouns, descriptive phrases and employing greetings or attention getters to avoid address terms were found to be the possible categories for Persian addressers' choice. The study also reveals that Persian language is rich enough in this respect and that an artful skill is required for Persian speakers to make an accurate and proper use of the vast range of choices for addressing individuals in various contexts. In addition to account for the abandonment of certain socioeconomic-referenced terms, the study also shows a number of culture-specific address terms which may have no equivalent in English.
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