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28 maig 2020 @ 11am

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L’ús de tu i vostè a la universitat

Alexandra Kathryn Osváth

“A Comparison of Pronominal Forms of Address in the Spanish and Catalan Spoken by students in Barcelona”
Revista de Llengua i Dret, núm. 64, 2015 140

The participant sample consisted of 61 students: 80.3% females and 19.7% males. Students were aged between 19 and 27, with a mean age of 21.8 and a median age of 21. I excluded the few students over the age of 27 in order to maintain a more homogenous and comparable sample. Most students studied either Hispanic Philology (42.6%) or Catalan Philology (37.7%), but also 13.1% studied Modern Languages and Literature, and 6.6% studied Linguistics.

Results showed that when participants were speaking Castilian Spanish or Catalan, age was a more important factor than social status; with younger interlocutors, most participants tended to use T. In each category of social status, interlocutors in the oldest age range received more V pronouns than did the younger categories. Likewise, in her 2011 study of university students in the region of Extremadura, Curiel’s results showed that age was most important deciding factor when participants were choosing an address pronoun (Curiel, 2011: 115). Molina Martos (2002: 113) also concluded that age was the most influential factor in participants’ pronoun choice based on the results from her 1988 and 2000 studies. She even stated that for two people meeting each other for the first time, age alone would indicate which address pronoun each person would use (Molina Martos, 2002: 113). In her 2006 study in Galicia, Sanromán found that 96% of her informants used T with students they were meeting for the first time (Sanromán, 2006: section 4.2.2), which was not the case with my sample due to the fact that I divided interlocutors into different age brackets. While 100% of my informants used T with student interlocutors aged 25-35, students’ T use was 73.7% when speaking Catalan and 73.2% when speaking Castilian Spanish to interlocutors aged 36-50 and plummeted to 17.5% when speaking Catalan and 30.8% when speaking Castilian Spanish to the oldest interlocutors, aged 5165. This was the only example I found of a very significant difference between students’ use of T and V in Catalan compared to Castilian Spanish with the above interlocutors. This difference could be attributed to the small sample size.

Despite age being the most influential factor in the present study and in the literature, social status was also important. With lower-status interlocutors in the lowest age group, such as students, participants unanimously used T; with the youngest higher-status interlocutors such as full professors, fewer participants used T. With intermediate-status interlocutors like information desk assistants and librarians, participants tended to be more evenly divided on their use of T/V with younger assistants, but again, most participants used V more often with older members of these status groups.

Even though there are three pronouns of varying levels of formality in the Catalan language, most participants did not utilize all three, as I had originally hypothesized. Surprisingly, while no students indicated using vós with interlocutors at the university, several students did report using vós and even V with their grandparents. According to the literature, fewer students should have used vós than V, but my results showed the opposite trend. A possible reason for this difference could be the small sample size since the literature review indicated that young people see vós as more formal and distant than vostè, so they prefer to use the latter (Nogué 2008: 226).

The results from the present study reflected other concepts that we saw in the literature review, such as the role of politeness in social indexing: the speaker’s address pronoun choice demonstrated the status of his or her social relationship with the interlocutor (Kasper, 1990; Brown & Gilman, 1960). Participants perceived the difference in their own age and that of their interlocutor, followed by the interlocutor’s social status as compared to their own, as indicators of the formality of address that they should use with the interlocutor.


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