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LINGUIST List 16.1249

Tue Apr 19 2005

Qs: Polite Pronouns; Longitudinal Acquisition Studies

Editor for this issue: Jessica Boynton <jessicalinguistlist.org>

We'd like to remind readers that the responses to queries are usually best posted to the individual asking the question. That individual is then strongly encouraged to post a summary to the list. This policy was instituted to help control the huge volume of mail on LINGUIST; so we would appreciate your cooperating with it whenever it seems appropriate. In addition to posting a summary, we'd like to remind people that it is usually a good idea to personally thank those individuals who have taken the trouble to respond to the query. To post to LINGUIST, use our convenient web form at http://linguistlist.org/LL/posttolinguist.html.
        1.    Johannes Helmbrecht, Emergence and Spread of Polite Pronouns
        2.    Sonja Janssens, Longitudinal L2 Acquisition Studies

Message 1: Emergence and Spread of Polite Pronouns
Date: 19-Apr-2005
From: Johannes Helmbrecht <johannes.helmbrechtuni-erfurt.de>
Subject: Emergence and Spread of Polite Pronouns

Dear Linguists,

It is well known that Europe is a linguistic area and this is in particular
obvious with regard to politeness distinctions in personal pronouns. Brown
& Gilman in their seminal article ''The pronouns of power and solidarity''
claim that the politeness distinction between tu/ vous (abbreviated as
T/V)arose in the late phase of the Roman empire with respect to the address
of the emperor. At that time, there were two of them, one in Rome and the
other in Constantinople. Later, the V form adopted a singular meaning
establishing the well-known contrast tu/vous in the Middle Ages in France.
This contrast was then regarded as the model for the spread of the T/V
distiction in the languages of Europe.

The theory of the origin of the T/V contrast was criticized as speculative
several times in the literature (e.g. Muehlhaeusler/ Harre 1990), but as
far as I know, it has been never disputed that this contrast in Old French
pronouns was borrowed into the adjacent languages and then spread even to
the peripheral languages of Europe. My question now is the following: does
anybody know or has references of how this spread came about. I am
interested in the historical details: when did the T/V contrast occur first
in the other languages of Europe (when is it attested first e.g. in Danish,
Polish, Russian etc.) and what can be said about the process of the
borrowing (which parts of the society of the borrowing language community
used it first and under what circumstances). The second question is: once
the contrast was adopted in one language how was it used (was it an
optional means, or obligatory and who had to use which form?)

Thank you very much in advance for your contributions. I will post a
summary of the responses on the same List.

Johannes Helmbrecht
University of Erfurt, Germany

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics
Historical Linguistics

Language Family(ies): Indo-European
Message 2: Longitudinal L2 Acquisition Studies
Date: 19-Apr-2005
From: Sonja Janssens <Sonja.Janssensvub.ac.be>
Subject: Longitudinal L2 Acquisition Studies

I am currently doing a longitudinal study on the acquisition of Dutch and
French as second languages in Brussels. I would like to put together or
find an overview of all the major group longitudinal studies on this
subject in particular, but I am also interested in longitudinal studies
that focus on other languages. Can anyone direct me to an existing
overview or send me a number of references? Please respond to
Sonja.Janssensvub.ac.be. Thank you very much for your help.

Kind regards
Sonja Janssens
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Department of English

Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Language Acquisition

Subject Language(s): Dutch (DUT)
French (FRN)

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