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Nominal address and rapport management in informal interactions among university students in Quito (Ecuador), Santiago (Chile) and Seville (Spain)

  • María Elena Placencia EMAIL logo , Catalina Fuentes Rodríguez and María Palma-Fahey
From the journal Multilingua


Nominal and pronominal address forms, which play a central role in the construction of interpersonal relations (cf. Bargiela et al. 2002; Clyne et al. 2009), have been the focus of attention in different linguistics subfields for several decades now. Less attention, however, has been paid to these forms from a variational pragmatics (Schneider and Barron 2008) perspective, particularly in Spanish. Using a corpus of role play interactions, we examine the impact of region and gender on nominal address usage among male and female university students from Quito (Ecuador), Santiago (Chile) and Seville (Spain). We look at how these forms are employed in rapport management (Spencer-Oatey 2008 [2000]) in two situations: giving advice and making a direct complaint (Boxer 1993). Building on work on nominal forms (cf. Leech 1999; McCarthy and O’Keeffe 2003), we examine similarities and differences in their use across the three varieties of Spanish. Among the findings recorded was a larger repertoire of nominal forms in the Santiago and Quito data sets relative to the Seville corpus, with the highest frequency of use in Santiago. We suggest that address usage in the dyadic contexts examined is connected to the expression of affect and involvement, with Chileans (Santiago) and Ecuadorians (Quito) displaying more affect than Spaniards (Seville). Contrary to early research suggesting that women employ more affiliative language than men (cf. Lakoff 1975), overall, males in the present study were found to use address forms more frequently than females across the three locations.


We are very grateful to Anne Barron and two anonymous reviewers for their comments on an earlier version of this paper.

Transcription conventions (adapted from Jefferson 1984)


Prolongation of the sound preceding the symbol


Rising intonation


Falling intonation


Continuing intonation


Exclamatory tone


Raised volume


A brief pause that cannot be readily measurable

( )

Word or utterance was unintelligible


Beginning of overlap



‘F’ stands for female


‘M’ stands for male


‘D’ stands for diminutive suffix


‘Aug’ stands for augmentative suffix


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Published Online: 2015-5-7
Published in Print: 2015-7-1

©2015 by De Gruyter Mouton

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