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Forms of Address in the College Classroom

Forms of Address in the College Classroom

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Title: Forms of Address in the College Classroom
Author: Wright, Saundra K.
Abstract: Forms of address are a critical component of language. They can be used to set the tone of a
communicative exchange and index social status. Many languages encode these linguistic forms directly
into their grammar; however, in English these politeness distinctions are expressed lexically through word
choice as speakers must select amongst various forms of a name (e.g., first/last name) and/or title (e.g., Mr.,
Mrs., Dr.) when addressing a communicative partner.
We are currently seeing changes in speakers’ selections of address forms in American English. This is
particularly true in academic settings where most students – and many professors – are now addressed by
their first names. In this paper, I look more closely at address forms in the college classroom, looking
specifically at what address forms college students are most likely to use and why. My findings suggest that
while informal address may be becoming more common in the classroom, the selection of address forms is
still far from predictable. Students’ selections of address forms vary according to the particular mode of
communication, the degrees of familiarity between the instructor and student, the personality of the
instructor, and the type of course being taught.
Subject: Addressing the Professor
Forms of Address in College
Type: Article
Rights: The following articles are © 2009 with the individual authors. They are made available free of charge from this page as a service to the community under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivative Works license version 3.0. For full details go to http://creativecommons.org.licenses/ny-nd.3.0
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10315/4053
Published: York University
Citation: Proceedings of the 23rd International Congress of Onomastic Sciences
ISBN: 978-1-55014-521-2
Date: 2009

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