Article published in:Using and Learning Italian in Australia
Edited by Antonia Rubino
[Australian Review of Applied Linguistics. Series S 18] 2004
► pp. 97–114
Keeping it all in the family
Tu, Lei and Voi. A study of address pronoun use in Italian
Although the Italian system of address pronouns is relatively complex, scant attention is paid to the issue in L2 manuals designed for English-speaking learners of Italian. After showing that Italian L2 manuals are not necessarily accurate in the limited detail they provide, we examine specifically the frequent claim that so-called informal tu is always used within the family. Results of a large quantitative survey conducted with native speakers of Italian in Italy and Australia show the situation to be much more complicated. Alongside tu, the more formal Lei, and the often ignored Voi, are also used, according to the interlocutor in question. Close genetic relation and proximity of age, operating independently of each other, are clear predictors of reciprocal use of tu. Otherwise, non-reciprocal use of Lei-tu and Voi-tu and even the more formal reciprocal use of Lei are not unknown in a family setting. Observations are made as to how these patterns group, along with a number of other observations about pronoun use. Finally, pedagogical suggestions that might allow English-speaking learners of Italian to understand address pronouns in Italian better and use them more accurately are also provided.
Published online: 01 January 2004
Cited by 5 other publications
No author info given
Formentelli, Maicol & John Hajek
Kretzenbacher, Heinz L.
2014. Elina Suomela-Härmä, Juhani Härmä and Eva Havu (eds), Représentations des formes d’adresse dans les langues romanes. (Mémoires de la Société Néophilologique de Helsinki, 89.) Helsinki: Société néophilologique, 2013, x + 328 pp. 978 951 9040 45 5 (paperback). Journal of French Language Studies 24:3 ► pp. 451 ff.
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