Forms of address in Basque
The aim of this article is twofold: first, to analyze and characterize forms of address in present-day Basque from a linguistic and sociolinguistic point of view, and, second, to underscore some of the distinctive features that make Basque interesting with regard to address.
This work characterizes forms and systems of address in Basque based on two main factors: second-person pronouns and allocutivity. Five types are proposed depending on dialectal variety, and the existing differences in each of these systems are described. This article aims to fill a gap in Basque studies by analyzing modes of address in present-day Basque as a whole and going beyond mere grammatical analysis: previous studies are rather partial and confusing in terms of linguistic description, dialectal distribution and social usage (hierarchy among modes of address); in contrast, this article, based on extensive field work, gives an account of the different address systems according to the dialect and shows the sociopragmatic value (i.e., level of formality or politeness and personal distance) that each mode of address acquires in its system.
The article will also highlight some of the distinctive linguistic features that make Basque interesting with regard to address. Forms of address in Basque display strong similarities with those in other languages in terms of the pronominal system and its historical development, yet they also show some distinctive features, namely: verbal allocutivity, which presents the speaker-hearer axis; gender differences in verb forms for familiar address; and the grammaticalization of expressive palatalization in the case of the xu form of address (xu being an expressive variant of the polite pronoun zu). Current trends towards simplification of the systems of address are also discussed, as is the existence of groups of speakers who use a simplified system.