Negotiating Identities Through Pronouns of Address in an Immigrant Community


Abstract


This article investigates forms of address, in particular the T/V distinction in German, in conversational
interviews with German-speaking immigrants to English-speaking Canada and their descendants. From
among 77 interviews conducted in two urban areas in Canada, we discuss instances of both the
interactional use of and metalinguistic comments on forms of address. Our analysis is largely guided by
conversation analysis and interactional sociolinguistics (e.g. Goodwin & Heritage 1990). Using Clyne,
Norrby and Warren's (2009) model of address as a backdrop, we investigate the construction of group
identity and group socialization through the lens of positioning theory (e.g. van Langenhove and Harr1993; Dailey-O'Cain and Liebscher 2009). This combination of analytical tools can explain shifts in both
usage of and attitudes toward the T/V distinction that cannot be explained through language attrition
arguments alone.

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