Perspective and Politeness in Finnish Requests

Elizabeth Peterson


This study makes use of elicited request speech act data in Finnish to view variability of personal perspective
and T/V forms across a variety of situations. The speakers exhibited a great deal of congruency when they
were scripted as addressing someone familiar, being in a position of equal or higher status than the
interlocutor, and when the request was considered a low imposition. In such situations, speakers tended to
use a second person perspective, with informal T/V forms. The Finnish T-forms were found to be the default
form, showing up in half of the request utterances. The Finnish V-forms showed up in only 10 percent of the
requests. A variationist analysis using Varbrul complemented the main findings, but was found to not be a
reliable tool for elicited pragmatic data, using sociopragmatic factors as independent variables.

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