A historical approach10.1515/9783110701234.
This chapter presents a study of the forms of address found in databases of letters written in Sao Paulo during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The data are analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively, considering aspects such as the gender of those involved in the epistolary relationship, date, exclusive or mixed use of a form, relationship between sender and recipient, as well as pragmatics. In the 18th century correspondence, there is widespread use of vossa merce (lit. ‘Your Mercy’) precisely in the region which later on will be characterized by the exclusive use of voce. In the 19th and 20th century letters, voce shows up with greater frequency than tu. The results show a higher frequency of voce in the period studied here, foreshadowing the subsystem of address forms currently used in the state of Sao Paulo.