Enacting ‘Being with You’: Vocative uses of du (“you”) in German everyday interaction

Pepe Droste and Susanne Günthner

Abstract

The German second person personal pronoun du is commonly described as a deictic “shifter” or a T-address term, which is incorporated as an argument of a predicate. Exploring the ways in which participants use pronouns in everyday interaction, however, shows that these are not the only uses of du. In this paper, we examine vocative uses of du in German everyday interaction. Drawing on methods of Conversation Analysis and Interactional Linguistics, we will show that speakers use vocative du for the management of being ‘with’ the other in terms of alignment as well as affiliation. What du locally accomplishes, however, is sensitive to its positioning within the temporal unfolding of turns and sequences as well as to the sequential environments in which it is used. Our findings demonstrate the context-sensitivity of du and underscore the importance of linguistic resources for the interactional establishment and maintenance of social togetherness and sociability.

Keywords:
Publication history
Table of contents

1.Introduction

This study deals with vocative uses of the second person personal pronoun du in German everyday interaction. Second person personal pronouns have long been studied as “shifters” (Jespersen 1923Jespersen, Otto 1923Language. Its Nature, Development, and Origin. New York: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar; Jakobson 1957/1971Jakobson, Roman 1957/1971 “Shifters, Verbal Categories, and the Russian Verb”. In Selected Writings, Vol. 2, 130–147. The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar), which are dependent on the interactive structure of communication and participant roles (Benveniste 1966Benveniste, Emile 1966Problèmes de linguistique générale. [Problems in general linguistics]. Paris: Éditions Gallimard.Google Scholar). Most research on second person personal pronouns focuses on elements that occur as arguments of a predicate. For example, conversation analytic studies have shed light on second person pronouns being “recipient indicators” and serving as a resource for the management of turn-taking in multi-party interactions (Lerner 1996Lerner, Gene H. 1996 “On the Place of Linguistic Resources in the Organization of Talk-in-Interaction: ‘Second Person’ Reference in Multi-Party Conversation.” Pragmatics 6 (3): 281–294. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2003 2003 “Selecting Next Speaker: The Context-sensitive Operation of a Context-free Organization.” Language in Society 32 (2): 177–201. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Using the second person personal pronoun in multi-party interactions clearly indexes that not all, but indeed one of the participants has been selected as next speaker – it does not, however, specify which one. Indeed, the second person pronoun needs to be combined with other cues like gaze to aid in the accomplishment of reference and addressing, disambiguating the speaker selection by binding auditive and visual modalities together.

For many years, streams of sociolinguistic and pragmatic research following Brown and Gilman (1960)Brown, Roger, and Albert Gilman 1960 “The Pronouns of Power and Solidarity.” In Style in Language, ed. by Thomas A. Sebeok, 253–276. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar and Brown and Levinson (1987)Brown, Penelope, and Stephen Levinson 1987Politeness. Some Universals in Language Usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar have been focusing on T/V distinctions and the implications of alternative pronominal forms of address for politeness. In accordance with these interests, much attention has been devoted to the structures of the German pronominal address system (e.g., Hickey 2003Hickey, Raymond 2003 “The German Address System: Binary and Scalar at once.” In Diachronic Perspectives on Address Term Systems, ed. by Irma Taavitsainen, and Andreas H. Jucker, 401–425. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Simon 2003Simon, Horst 2003 “From Pragmatics to Grammar: Tracing the Development of ‘Respect’ in the History of the German Pronouns of Address.” In Diachronic Perspectives on Address Term Systems, ed. by Irma Taavitsainen, and Andreas H. Jucker, 85–123. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), and the uses and ideologies embracing the present-day distinction of non-polite du and polite Sie (e.g., Clyne et al. 2009Clyne, Michael, Catrin Norrby, and Jane Warren 2009Language and Human Relations. Styles of Address in Contemporary Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Kretzenbacher 2010 2010 “‚Man ordnet ja bestimmte Leute irgendwo ein für sich…‘ Anrede und soziale Deixis. [‘Man ordnet ja bestimmte Leute irgendwo ein für sich…’ Address and social deixis.]” Deutsche Sprache 38: 1–18.Google Scholar; Liebscher et al. 2010Liebscher, Grit, Jennifer Dailey-O’Cain, Mareike Müller, and Tetyana Reichert 2010 “Negotiating Identities through Pronouns of Address in an Immigrant Community.” Pragmatics 20 (3): 375–400. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Furthermore, ‘non-prototypical’ uses have been studied, e.g., uses of du as non-addressee deictic pronoun (e.g., Auer and Stukenbrock 2018Auer, Peter, and Anja Stukenbrock 2018 “When ‘you’ means ‘I’: The German 2nd Ps.Sg. Pronoun du between Genericity and Subjectivity.” Open Linguistics 4: 280–309. CrossrefGoogle Scholar).

Analyses of German everyday interaction, however, show that uses of du as argument of a predicate are not its only uses. For example, consider the following episode of a telephone interaction between two sisters, Tina and Marina. In the extract, the personal pronoun du is used three times. However, the occurrences have different syntactic status: whereas du is an argument in the reported speech frame in line 6, it is syntactically peripheral in lines 12 and 18:

(1)lAuDa ID 896

  01 Tina:   ja nee dem der muss sich wIrklich mehr RUhe antun;
             yes he surely needs more rest
  02 Marina: MUSS der auch;
             he must do
  03         der KANN [das auch/]
             he can that
  04 Tina:            [ja:::    ][:::::;                   ]
                       yes
  05 Marina:                      [ich hab ihm auch gesacht;]
                                  I also told him
 06         ich sag du bist keine DREIßig mehr,
             I say “you aren’t thirty anymore”
  07 Tina:   nee; (.)
             yes
  08         n=das- (.)
             and that
  09         marina das MERKT man SO.
             Marina you can notice that
  10         ich WEISS [das] wohl ne,
             I know that right
  11 Marina:           [ja;]
                        yes
 12         ja [das is nich so EINfach du;]
             yes it’s not that easy du11.Since rendering the vocative uses of du in the English translations is very difficult, we refrain from translating vocative uses of du. In the English translations they will be represented by using the German original du.
  13 Tina:       [ich mErk das ja AUCH;     ]
                 I realize that too
  14         (-)
  15 Tina:   ne,
             well
  16 Marina: ne,
             isn’t it
  17         j[a:;]
             yes:
 18 Tina:    [du ] und [eh ]b;
               du and ehm
  19 Marina:            [ne,]
                         well
  20         [und-]
              and
  21 Tina:   [WIE ] war das jetz nochmAl-
              what happened exactly
  22         aNIta hatte geschrieben dass die carla VOLKner tot is,
             Anita had written that Carla Volkner is dead
  23 Marina: ja nee briGITte; (.)
             yes no Brigitte
  24 Tina:   ach briGITte hat das geschrieben.
             oh Brigitte wrote that

Not much research has been devoted to such ‘non-prototypical’ uses of du in German (as in lines 12 and 18) and to vocative or syntactically non-integrated personal pronouns in general (but see e.g., Biq 1991Biq, Yung-O. 1991 “The Multiple Uses of the Second Singular Pronoun ni in Conversational Mandarin.” Journal of Pragmatics 44: 929–957.Google Scholar; Bladas and Nogué 2016Bladas, Òscar, and Neus Nogué 2016 “ ‘Que bé tu!’: An Emerging Emphatic Use of the Second Person Singular Pronoun tu (you) in Spoken Catalan.” Pragmatics 26 (3): 473–500. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Droste and Günthner 2020Droste, Pepe, and Susanne Günthner 2020 “‚das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;‘: Zum Zusammenspiel syntaktischer, prosodischer und sequenzieller Aspekte syntaktisch desintegrierter du-Formate. [‘das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;’: On the interplay of syntactic, prosodic and sequential aspects syntactically disintegrated formats of du.]” In Prosodie und Konstruktionsgrammatik. [Construction Grammar and Prosody], ed. by Wolfgang Imo, and Jens Philipp Lanwer, 75–110. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter.Google Scholar). The instances of du in lines 12 and 18 are similar to nominal vocatives as in line 09 as they are grammatically optional22.Note also the similarities with the occurrence of personal pronouns in pro-drop languages, where overt reference by using the second person personal pronoun is marked and used for specific actions (see e.g., Oh 2007Oh, Sun-Young 2007 “Overt Reference to Speaker and Recipient in Korean.” Discourse Studies 9 (4): 462–492. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). and appear in the same syntactic and turn-constructional patterns, being either pre-positioned (line 18), post-positioned (line 13) or standing alone. In Extract 1, vocative du occurs not only in different positions but also in distinct action environments: In line 12, du is used turn-finally, completing a statement in the course of the participants’ mutual display of understanding and affiliation; whereas in line 18, it is deployed turn-initially preceding a topic shift. In this dyadic interaction on the phone, syntactically disintegrated du is completely redundant as a resource for the basic task of addressing as the participation framework renders the direction of talk transparent and knowable in advance. Thus, the question arises: what do participants ‘do’ when they use vocative du in interaction?

Interactional-oriented studies have contributed to a better understanding that vocatives are used “in the service of a variety of actions beyond addressing per se” (Clayman 2010Clayman, Steven 2010 “Address Terms in the Service of Other Actions: The Case of News Interview Talk.” Discourse & Communication 4 (2): 161–183. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 163; for overviews see Schwitalla 1995Schwitalla, Johannes 1995 “Namen in Gesprächen. [Names in conversations.]” In Namenforschung. Ein internationales Handbuch zur Onomastik [Onomastics. An international handbook on onomastics], ed. by Ernst Eichler, Gerold Hilty, Heinrich Löffler, Hugo Steger, and Ladislav Zgusta, 498–504. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter.Google Scholar, 2010 2010 “Kommunikative Funktionen von Sprecher- und Adressatennamen in Gesprächen. [Communicative functions of names of speakers and addressees in conversations.]” In Eigennamen in der gesprochenen Sprache [Proper names in spoken language], ed. by Nicolas Pepin, and Elwys De Stefani, 197–199. Tübingen: Niemeyer.Google Scholar; Günthner 2016Günthner, Susanne 2016 “Praktiken erhöhter Dialogizität: onymische Anredeformen als Gesten personifizierter Zuwendung. [Practices of increased dialogism: Onymic forms of address as gestures of personified other-orientation.]” Zeitschrift für Germanistische Linguistik 44 (3): 406–436. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Couper-Kuhlen and Selting 2017Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth, and Margret Selting 2017Interactional Linguistics. Studying Language in Social Interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar). Participants rely on vocatives for a plethora of purposes, e.g., displaying a profiled orientation towards the other (Günthner 2016Günthner, Susanne 2016 “Praktiken erhöhter Dialogizität: onymische Anredeformen als Gesten personifizierter Zuwendung. [Practices of increased dialogism: Onymic forms of address as gestures of personified other-orientation.]” Zeitschrift für Germanistische Linguistik 44 (3): 406–436. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2019), selecting next speakers (Sacks et al. 1974Sacks, Harvey, Emanuel A. Schegloff, and Gail Jefferson 1974 “A Simplest Systematics for the Organization of Turn-Taking for Conversation.” Language 50 (4): 696–735. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), ensuring recipiency (Lerner 2003 2003 “Selecting Next Speaker: The Context-sensitive Operation of a Context-free Organization.” Language in Society 32 (2): 177–201. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Wootton 1981Wootton, Anthony J. 1981 “Children’s Use of Address Terms.” In Adult–Child Conversations, ed. by Peter French, and Margaret Maclure, 142–158. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar), launching topic shifts (Clayman 2010Clayman, Steven 2010 “Address Terms in the Service of Other Actions: The Case of News Interview Talk.” Discourse & Communication 4 (2): 161–183. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Rendle-Short 2011 2011 “Address Terms in the Australian Political News Interview.” In Talking Politics in Broadcast Media. Cross-cultural Perspectives on Political Interviewing, Journalism and Accountability, ed. by Mats Ekström, and Marianna Patrona, 93–111. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Droste and Günthner 2020Droste, Pepe, and Susanne Günthner 2020 “‚das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;‘: Zum Zusammenspiel syntaktischer, prosodischer und sequenzieller Aspekte syntaktisch desintegrierter du-Formate. [‘das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;’: On the interplay of syntactic, prosodic and sequential aspects syntactically disintegrated formats of du.]” In Prosodie und Konstruktionsgrammatik. [Construction Grammar and Prosody], ed. by Wolfgang Imo, and Jens Philipp Lanwer, 75–110. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter.Google Scholar), mobilizing response (Droste and Günthner 2020Droste, Pepe, and Susanne Günthner 2020 “‚das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;‘: Zum Zusammenspiel syntaktischer, prosodischer und sequenzieller Aspekte syntaktisch desintegrierter du-Formate. [‘das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;’: On the interplay of syntactic, prosodic and sequential aspects syntactically disintegrated formats of du.]” In Prosodie und Konstruktionsgrammatik. [Construction Grammar and Prosody], ed. by Wolfgang Imo, and Jens Philipp Lanwer, 75–110. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter.Google Scholar), indexing sequential departure (Rendle-Short 2007Rendle-Short, Johanna 2007 “ ‘Catherine, you’re Wasting your Time’: Address Terms within the Australian Political Interview.” Journal of Pragmatics 39: 1503–1525. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2011 2011 “Address Terms in the Australian Political News Interview.” In Talking Politics in Broadcast Media. Cross-cultural Perspectives on Political Interviewing, Journalism and Accountability, ed. by Mats Ekström, and Marianna Patrona, 93–111. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Clayman 2013 2013 “Agency in Response: The Role of Prefatory Address Terms.” Journal of Pragmatics 57: 290–302. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Butler et al. 2011Butler, Carly W., Susan Danby, and Michael Emmison 2011 “Address Terms in Turn Beginnings: Managing Disalignment and Disaffiliation in Telephone Counseling.” Research on Language and Social Interaction 44 (4): 338–358. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), or accomplishing ‘significance’ or ‘sincerity’ (Clayman 2010Clayman, Steven 2010 “Address Terms in the Service of Other Actions: The Case of News Interview Talk.” Discourse & Communication 4 (2): 161–183. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Günthner 2016Günthner, Susanne 2016 “Praktiken erhöhter Dialogizität: onymische Anredeformen als Gesten personifizierter Zuwendung. [Practices of increased dialogism: Onymic forms of address as gestures of personified other-orientation.]” Zeitschrift für Germanistische Linguistik 44 (3): 406–436. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). Since the early work of Wootton (1981)Wootton, Anthony J. 1981 “Children’s Use of Address Terms.” In Adult–Child Conversations, ed. by Peter French, and Margaret Maclure, 142–158. London: Croom Helm.Google Scholar, interactional-oriented studies add to the evidence that uses of vocatives in distinct syntactic and turn-organizational positions perform distinct actions (Lerner 2003 2003 “Selecting Next Speaker: The Context-sensitive Operation of a Context-free Organization.” Language in Society 32 (2): 177–201. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Rendle-Short 2007Rendle-Short, Johanna 2007 “ ‘Catherine, you’re Wasting your Time’: Address Terms within the Australian Political Interview.” Journal of Pragmatics 39: 1503–1525. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Clayman 2012 2012 “Address Terms in the Organization of Turns at Talk: The Case of Pivotal Turn Extensions.” Journal of Pragmatics 44: 1853–1867. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Günthner 2016Günthner, Susanne 2016 “Praktiken erhöhter Dialogizität: onymische Anredeformen als Gesten personifizierter Zuwendung. [Practices of increased dialogism: Onymic forms of address as gestures of personified other-orientation.]” Zeitschrift für Germanistische Linguistik 44 (3): 406–436. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2019 2019 “Namentliche Anreden in onkologischen Aufklärungsgesprächen: eine interaktional ausgerichtete Studie zu Formen und Funktionen onymischer Anreden. [Onymic address in oncologic briefings: An interactional-oriented study of the forms and functions of onymic address.]” Arbeitspapiere Sprache und Interaktion (SpIn) 82.Google Scholar; Droste and Günthner 2020Droste, Pepe, and Susanne Günthner 2020 “‚das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;‘: Zum Zusammenspiel syntaktischer, prosodischer und sequenzieller Aspekte syntaktisch desintegrierter du-Formate. [‘das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;’: On the interplay of syntactic, prosodic and sequential aspects syntactically disintegrated formats of du.]” In Prosodie und Konstruktionsgrammatik. [Construction Grammar and Prosody], ed. by Wolfgang Imo, and Jens Philipp Lanwer, 75–110. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter.Google Scholar): While pre-positioned, turn-prefacing vocatives tend to be deployed in order to attract the attention of the addressee and to establish mutual orientation, post-positioned, turn-following vocatives tend to be deployed as stance-markers.

In the literature, vocative du is mentioned only sporadically, as an aside. The few references to vocative du point to the following two aspects: First, uses of vocative du may serve structural tasks of participation. As early as 1934, Bühler (1934/1965Bühler, Karl 1934/1965Sprachtheorie. Die Darstellungsfunktion der Sprache. [Language theory. The representational function of language.] Stuttgart: Fischer.Google Scholar, 114) mentions the vocative use of du and calls it “Appellwort”, i.e. a summons that precedes focused interaction, checking co-presence and availability of an addressee to attend to the projected talk for which s/he is selected as recipient. These observations are advanced by Auer (1996Auer, Peter 1996 “The Pre-front Field Position in Spoken German and its Relevance as a Grammaticalization Position.” Pragmatics 6 (3): 295–322. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2005 2005 “Projection in Interaction and Projection in Grammar.” Text 25 (1): 7–36. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) who describes forms of syntactic “condensation” of the summons-answer-continuation sequence by the prefacing of turns with du allowing tasks beyond the establishment of co-presence and mutual availability to be accomplished:

Since co-presence was established beforehand, the original function of the summons is also no longer valid; the pre-front field vocative can now take on a variety of contextualizing functions, such as to mark topic shifts or to introduce central or critical conversational moves.(Auer 2005 2005 “Projection in Interaction and Projection in Grammar.” Text 25 (1): 7–36. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 29)

Second, uses of vocative du may also manage affective issues of participation, not only directing the attention of the addressee but also indexing relational closeness and social solidarity of speaker and addressee (Zifonun et al. 1997Zifonun, Gisela, Ludger Hoffmann, and Bruno Strecker 1997Grammatik der deutschen Sprache. [Grammar of German language.] Berlin/New York: de Gruyter.Google Scholar, 321, 925). Correspondingly, Kretzenbacher (1991)Kretzenbacher, Heinz L. 1991 “Vom Sie zum Du – und retour? [From Sie to Du – and back?]” In Vom Sie zum Du – mehr als eine neue Konvention? [From Sie to Du – More than a new convention?], ed. by Heinz L. Kretzenbacher, and Wulf Segebrecht, 9–78. Hamburg/Zürich: Luchterhand.Google Scholar briefly describes du as an address term that verbally “nudges” the particular other and constructs a stance of other-attentiveness by metapragmatically glossing the direction of talk.33.Furthermore, vocative du may index registers of social personhood and conversational styles (e.g., Kretzenbacher 1991Kretzenbacher, Heinz L. 1991 “Vom Sie zum Du – und retour? [From Sie to Du – and back?]” In Vom Sie zum Du – mehr als eine neue Konvention? [From Sie to Du – More than a new convention?], ed. by Heinz L. Kretzenbacher, and Wulf Segebrecht, 9–78. Hamburg/Zürich: Luchterhand.Google Scholar; Androutsopoulos 1998Androutsopoulos, Jannis 1998Deutsche Jugendsprache. Untersuchungen zu ihren Strukturen und Funktionen. [German youth language. Investigations of its structures and functions.] Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.Google Scholar). In the following, we refrain from addressing this issue.

Droste and Günthner (2020)Droste, Pepe, and Susanne Günthner 2020 “‚das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;‘: Zum Zusammenspiel syntaktischer, prosodischer und sequenzieller Aspekte syntaktisch desintegrierter du-Formate. [‘das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;’: On the interplay of syntactic, prosodic and sequential aspects syntactically disintegrated formats of du.]” In Prosodie und Konstruktionsgrammatik. [Construction Grammar and Prosody], ed. by Wolfgang Imo, and Jens Philipp Lanwer, 75–110. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter.Google Scholar is the only systematic study on syntactically disintegrated du. Their interactional analyses of everyday interactions add to the insight that participants use du for the management of a vast range of both structural as well as affective issues of participation. They provide evidence that du is “positionally sensitive” (Schegloff 1996Schegloff, Emanuel A. 1996 “Turn Organization: One Intersection of Grammar and Interaction.” In Interaction and Grammar, ed. by Elinor Ochs, Emanuel A. Schegloff, and Sandra A. Thompson, 52–133. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Lindström 2014Lindström, Jan 2014 “On the Place of Turn and Sequence in Grammar. Verb-first Clausal Constructions in Swedish Talk-in-interaction.” Pragmatics 24 (3): 507–532. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Auer and Lindström 2016Auer, Peter, and Jan Lindström 2016 “Left/right Asymmetries and the Grammar of Pre- vs. Post-positioning in German and Swedish Talk-in-interaction.” Language Sciences 56: 68–92. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) as it performs specific interactional tasks depending upon its position.44.For brief notes on du see also Androutsopoulos (1998Androutsopoulos, Jannis 1998Deutsche Jugendsprache. Untersuchungen zu ihren Strukturen und Funktionen. [German youth language. Investigations of its structures and functions.] Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.Google Scholar, 480). Furthermore, they show that the positioning within the temporally unfolding structure of turn-constructional units (TCUs) is intricately intertwined with prosodic formatting. Regardless of the position, the degree of prosodic separation from the turn proper correlates with the intensity of the break with what has immediately preceded and the necessity of local reorientation. Hence, turn-organizational and prosodic formatting of du is iconically linked with local contingencies (cf. also Couper-Kuhlen 2004Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth 2004 “Prosody and Sequence Organization in English Conversation. The Case of New Beginnings.” In Sound Patterns in Interaction, ed. by Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen, and Cecilia E. Ford, 335–376. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2009 2009 “Relatedness and Timing in Talk-in-interaction.” In Where Prosody Meets Pragmatics, ed. by Dagmar Barth-Weingarten, Nicole Dehé, and Anne Wichmann, 257–276. Bingley: Emerald. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). However, the study is limited to the use of du in specific sequential environments, i.e. new beginnings, repair in contexts of recognizable disengagement and stance-takings. The questions of how the heterogenous variety of actions performed in du-turns are related and what makes du serve as a local device of (dis)alignment, affiliation or both remain unanswered.

This paper extends Droste and Günthner’s (2020) work on du to further sequential environments and uses methods of Interactional Linguistics and Conversation Analysis to examine in detail what participants ‘do’ when they use vocative du in social interaction. We draw on the distinction of alignment and affiliation (Stivers 2008Stivers, Tanya 2008 “Stance, Alignment, and Affiliation during Storytelling: When Nodding is a Token of Affiliation.” Research on Language and Social Interaction 41 (1): 31–57. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Stivers et al. 2011Stivers, Tanya, Lorenza Mondada, and Jakob Steensig 2011 “Knowledge, Morality and Affiliation in Social Interaction.” In The Morality of Knowledge in Conversation, ed. by Tanya Stivers, Lorenza Mondada, and Jakob Steensig, 3–26. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) to examine how du relates to the sequential environments in which it is deployed. Alignment involves the structural organization of interaction and refers to how well an action fits with the activity in progress. Aligning actions are ones “facilitating the proposed activity or sequence; accepting the presuppositions and terms of the proposed action or activity; and matching the formal design preference of the turn” (Stivers et al. 2011Stivers, Tanya, Lorenza Mondada, and Jakob Steensig 2011 “Knowledge, Morality and Affiliation in Social Interaction.” In The Morality of Knowledge in Conversation, ed. by Tanya Stivers, Lorenza Mondada, and Jakob Steensig, 3–26. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 21). By affiliation we refer to the affective level of interaction, i.e., how turns relate to the affective stance displayed by the other. Affiliative actions are “maximally pro-social when they match the prior speaker’s evaluative stance, display empathy and/or cooperate with the preference of the prior action” (Stivers et al. 2011Stivers, Tanya, Lorenza Mondada, and Jakob Steensig 2011 “Knowledge, Morality and Affiliation in Social Interaction.” In The Morality of Knowledge in Conversation, ed. by Tanya Stivers, Lorenza Mondada, and Jakob Steensig, 3–26. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 21). The central claim of the paper is that vocative du proposes, solicits and displays alignment and/or affiliation as ways of being ‘with’ the other. This being ‘with’ may embrace (re)establishing joint attention, initiating disjunctive moves, indexing sequential departures as well as displaying and soliciting affiliation.

2.The collection

This study is based on large corpora of video- or audio-recorded everyday interactions between speakers of German (face-to-face interactions, telephone- as well as skype-interactions). Data are taken from the lAuDa corpus (University of Münster),55. https://​lauda​-ms​.lingdata​.de/ the KoMI corpus (Droste 2018Droste, Pepe 2018Korpus ‚Multimodale Interaktion‘ [Corpus ‘multimodal interaction’]. University of Münster.Google Scholar), the publicly accessible database FOLK of the Institute for the German Language in Mannheim, Germany,66. http://​dgd​.ids​-mannheim​.de/ and a corpus from a reality TV-show (University of Freiburg)77.Thanks to Peter Auer for providing access to the data. that cover a very broad range of settings and a large number of speakers of different ages and from many regions within Germany. From these corpora, we collected all instances of du in which du (i) is not an argument of a predicate and (ii) serves to indicate an addressee. Thus, syntactically integrated uses of du, in which du is the subject of the predicate (Extract 2), analeptic uses (Extract 3) and subjects of imperatives (Extract 4) are excluded from the collection.

(2)lAuDa ID 896

01 Marina: ich sag du bist keine DREIßig mehr,
           I say “you aren’t thirty anymore”

(3)KoMI 36_4_2017-06-21_4

  01 Maren: WAS für ne liga sEId ihr so? (.)
            in which league do you play
      Noah: oberliga;
            oberliga
            (-)
    Maren: und DU?
            and you
            (-)
      Tim:  bezirks;
            bezirksliga

(4)BB96

01 Jörg: ja mAch du erst mal deinen KOFfer in ruhe.
         yes, do your bag in peace and comfort for now

Instances of du, which may be termed “pseudo-vocatives” (d’Avis and Meibauer 2013d’Avis, Franz, and Jörg Meibauer 2013 “Du Idiot! Din idiot! Pseudo-vocative Constructions and Insults in German (and Swedish).” In Vocative! Addressing between System and Performance, ed. by Barbara Sonnenhauser, and Patrizia Noel Aziz Hanna, 189–217. Berlin/Boston: Walter de Gruyter. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), were also excluded from the collection (Extract 5).

(5)BB66

  01 Vera: °hh oh lySANder.=
            oh Lysander
 02        du (.) PENner,
            you bum

Furthermore, cases in which the syntactic status of du was unclear, e.g. multiple instances of du at turn-beginnings (see Extract 6) were also left out.

(6)lAuDa ID 815

  01 Paula: ja:;
            yes
 02        und du du musst jetzt gleich LOS oder nich?
            and you/du you have to leave now, don’t you
  03        schon?
            already

The interactions in which vocative du is used are all informal, involving family, intimates and friends engaging in a wide variety of everyday activities; working, having meals, or just chatting. Additionally, vocative du only occurs in interactional episodes in which the participants refer to each other with the non-polite pronoun du (not polite Sie). However, our data does not provide evidence that the distinction of so-called T-forms and V-forms invokes contextual dimensions that participants orient to when using vocative du in social interaction.88.But see Raymond’s (2016)Raymond, Chase 2016 “Linguistic Reference in the Negotiation of Identity and Action: Revisiting the T/V Distinction.” Language 92 (3): 636–670. CrossrefGoogle Scholar investigation of shifts between T-forms and V-forms in Peruvian Spanish, showing that participants rely on these resources to accomplish important elements of identity in the service of social action.

Our collection yields more than 250 cases – both cases in which du is combined with other lexical elements (e.g., first names, interjections, discourse markers etc.) as well as cases in which it is not combined with other lexical elements. All cases were categorized based on turn construction. We found the following formats: (i) stand-alone du (occupying the whole turn and performing a social action on its own) as well as (ii) turn-prefacing du and (iii) turn-final/TCU-final du (not performing a social action on their own, but rather being a part of a TCU of a turn implementing a social action). Our data do not provide any instances of du within TCUs, i.e. parenthetical instances.

In the following sections, we present close analyses of uses of du in different syntactic positions and sequential positions and environments. First, we show that stand-alone du is used as a summons to (re)establish a joint focus of attention (Section 3). Second, we describe how du as a turn-preface, or as part of one, is used in different sequential environments to manage issues of alignment and affiliation (Section 4). Lastly, we focus on turn-final du as a device for indexing heightened involvement and mobilizing affiliation relevance (Section 5).

The transcription follows the GAT 2 conventions (Selting et al. 2011Selting, Margret et al. 2011 “A System for Transcribing Talk-in-interaction: GAT 2. Translated and adapted for English by Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen and Dagmar Barth-Weingarten.” Gesprächsforschung – Online-Zeitschrift zur verbalen Interaktion 12: 1–51.Google Scholar) and is enhanced by Mondada (2018) 2018 “Multiple Temporalities of Language and Body in Interaction: Challenges for Transcribing Multimodality.” In Research on Language and Social Interaction 51 (1): 85–106. CrossrefGoogle Scholar for nonverbal conduct.

3.Stand-alone du

In social situations in which the participants do not maintain a joint focus of visual and cognitive attention, vocative du may serve as a summons, with which the availability of an addressee to attend the talk for which s/he is selected as recipient is checked.99.Goffman refers to focused encounters when speaking about “two or more participants in a situation joining each other openly in maintaining a single focus of cognitive and visual attention” (Goffman 1963Goffman, Ervin 1963Behavior in Public Places. Notes on the Social Organization of Gatherings. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar, 89; see also Kendon 1990Kendon, Adam 1990Conducting Interaction. Patterns of Behavior in Focused Encounters. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar). This is the case in the following episode which is taken from a reality TV-show. Joe, Bea and Jörg are sitting on couches arranged around a table and maintain an ‘open state of talk’ (Goffman 1981 1981Forms of Talk. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar). While Bea is checking her mobile phone, Jörg is rolling a cigarette. The participants are asked to talk about a topic written on a card which lies on the table in front of Bea (see Figure 1A). Joe initiates the sequential reestablishment of a joint focus of attention. After his so gets no response (lines 02–03), he uses du to attract Bea’s attention (line 04):

(7)BB 97 (Droste and Günthner 2020Droste, Pepe, and Susanne Günthner 2020 “‚das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;‘: Zum Zusammenspiel syntaktischer, prosodischer und sequenzieller Aspekte syntaktisch desintegrierter du-Formate. [‘das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;’: On the interplay of syntactic, prosodic and sequential aspects syntactically disintegrated formats of du.]” In Prosodie und Konstruktionsgrammatik. [Construction Grammar and Prosody], ed. by Wolfgang Imo, and Jens Philipp Lanwer, 75–110. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter.Google Scholar)

  01       ((open state of talk))
  02 Joe:  so;
           so
  03       (.)#
     fig      #Fig. 1A
 04       <<:-)> DU: +h° he->
                  du
     jörg             +shifts gaze to Joe->
  05       *(-)
     bea   *shifts gaze to Joe->
  06 Bea:  #ja[::?]
            yes
     fig   #Fig. 1B
  07 Joe:     [THE]+ma?
               topic
     jörg        ->+looks at his hands->
  08       (-)
  09       er*ZÄHL.
           tell me
     bea   ->*shifts gaze towards card-->>
  10       ((laughs, 0.8 seconds))
  11 Bea:  [ich +erZÄHL #nix; ]
           I won’t tell anything
  12 Jörg: [(   +            )]
              ->+
     fig                #Fig. 1C
  13 Bea:  <<reads aloud> lachen ist geSUND;
                          laughing is healthy
  14       aber wO hört der SPASS auf;>
           but where does the fun stop

Figure 1.Joe initiates a joint focus of attention with Bea
Figure 1.

Joe’s du puts upgraded pressure for a response on an addressee (Stivers and Rossano 2010Stivers, Tanya, and Federico Rossano 2010 “Mobilizing Response.” Research on Language and Social Interaction 43 (1): 3–31. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), providing a clear first-pair part of a summons-answer sequence, securing co-presence, and accomplishing joint orientation at turn-beginning (see Deppermann 2013Deppermann, Arnulf 2013 “Turn-design at Turn-beginnings: Multimodal Resources to Deal with Tasks of Turn-construction in German.” Journal of Pragmatics 46: 91–121. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). As a summons, du indexes that a co-participant owes recipiency, which makes it a more analytical attention-getting device than some other means like audible in-breath (Schegloff 1996Schegloff, Emanuel A. 1996 “Turn Organization: One Intersection of Grammar and Interaction.” In Interaction and Grammar, ed. by Elinor Ochs, Emanuel A. Schegloff, and Sandra A. Thompson, 52–133. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Mortensen 2009Mortensen, Kristian 2009 “Establishing Recipiency in Pre-beginning Position in the Second Language Classroom.” Discourse Processes 46 (5): 491–515. CrossrefGoogle Scholar), pauses and restarts (Goodwin 1980Goodwin, Charles 1980 “Restarts, Pauses, and the Achievement of Mutual Gaze at Turn-beginning.” Sociological Inquiry 50 (3–4): 272–302. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 1981 1981Conversational Organization. Interaction between Speakers and Hearers. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar), interjections, or body movements (Mortensen 2009Mortensen, Kristian 2009 “Establishing Recipiency in Pre-beginning Position in the Second Language Classroom.” Discourse Processes 46 (5): 491–515. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Mondada 2013a 2013a “Embodied and Spatial Resources for Turn-taking in Institutional Multi-party Interactions: Participatory Democracy Debates.” Journal of Pragmatics 46, 39–68. CrossrefGoogle Scholar). The stand-alone du occasions “a visual search procedure by coparticipants to determine from the speaker’s gaze just who the addressed recipient is” (Lerner 2003 2003 “Selecting Next Speaker: The Context-sensitive Operation of a Context-free Organization.” Language in Society 32 (2): 177–201. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 192): Joe’s co-participants interrupt their activities, reorient their gaze to Joe, thus establishing a shared interactional space (Mondada 2009Mondada, Lorenza 2009 “Emergent Focused Interactions in Public Places: A Systematic Analysis of the Multimodal Achievement of a Common Interactional Space.” Journal of Pragmatics 41: 1977–1997. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2013b 2013b “Interactional Space and the Study of Embodied Talk-in-interaction.” In Space in Language and Linguistics. Geographical, Interactional, and Cognitive Perspectives, ed. by Peter Auer, Martin Hilpert, Anja Stukenbrock, and Benedikt Szmrecsanyi, 247–275. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; Kendon 1990Kendon, Adam 1990Conducting Interaction. Patterns of Behavior in Focused Encounters. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar), and display observable recipiency (lines 04–05). The fact that both participants display recipiency demonstrates that du does not specify a particular addressee – although it does ‘indicate’ (Lerner 1996Lerner, Gene H. 1996 “On the Place of Linguistic Resources in the Organization of Talk-in-Interaction: ‘Second Person’ Reference in Multi-Party Conversation.” Pragmatics 6 (3): 281–294. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2003) that an addressee and a particular participation framework (Goodwin and Goodwin 2004Goodwin, Charles, and Marjorie H. Goodwin 2004 “Participation.” In A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology, ed. by Alessandro Duranti, 222–244. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar) have been proposed. This makes du (i) less analytical than vocative proper names (Lerner 2003 2003 “Selecting Next Speaker: The Context-sensitive Operation of a Context-free Organization.” Language in Society 32 (2): 177–201. CrossrefGoogle Scholar) or touch and (ii) a more intimate way of summoning because it presupposes co-presence of the participants. We suggest that it is Joe’s gaze which serves as the referential means with which the direction of his talk becomes clear and Bea is singled out as the addressee. (Unfortunately, the image section of the video recording does not indicate the direction of Joe’s gaze at that moment.) By delivering the verbal second pair part ja (“yes”) Bea displays availability for further engagement and ratifies the projected participant framework as well as her participant status as addressed recipient (line 06). In contrast, Jörg withdraws his gaze, shifting it to his manual work and becoming an unaddressed recipient.

All in all, summoning with du initiates the sequential achievement of mutual orientation and the orientation to a shared interactional space, thereby (re-)establishing inevitable prerequisites that allow for the following accomplishment of what Goffman (1963Goffman, Ervin 1963Behavior in Public Places. Notes on the Social Organization of Gatherings. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar, 98) calls a “we-rationale”, i.e. a sense of doing a specific activity together (lines 07–14).

4.Du-prefacing

Prefacing turns with du establishes or reestablishes states of being ‘with’ the other as do summons with stand-alone du. However, the interactional accomplishments are critically particularized by the sequential environments and the types of turn, i.e., turn-beginnings that initiate a new action trajectory (Section 4.1), responsive turn-beginnings (Section 4.2), and turn-beginnings that expand a sequence (Section 4.3).

4.1Prefacing turns that initiate a new action sequence

In first position, du-prefaced turns are recurrently used to launch new courses of action. Prefacing with du secures the availability of an addressee, thereby accomplishing an interactional prerequisite for producing the turn already underway. Additionally, du alerts the so addressed recipient that something noteworthy is to come. This can be illustrated by returning to the dyadic telephone interaction between the sisters Tina and Marina presented in the introduction as Extract (1). In the course of the participants’ mutual display of understanding and affiliation, the sequence is brought to a point of possible completion (lines 14–17). At this point, it is not clear what comes next and who will take the next turn. Overlapping with Marina, Tina uses du followed by hesitation markers (“und eh;”, line 18), initiating a topic proffering sequence:

(8)lAuDa ID 896

  09 Tina:   marina das MERKT man SO.
             Marina you can notice that
  10         ich WEISS [das] wohl ne,
             I know that right
  11 Marina:           [ja;]
                        Yes
  12         ja [das is nich so EINfach du;]
             yes it’s not that easy du
  13 Tina:      [ich mErk das ja AUCH;     ]
                 I realize that too
  14         (-)
  15 Tina:   ne,
             well
  16 Marina: ne?
             isn’t it
  17         j[a:;]
             yes:
 18 Tina:    [↑DU] und [eh-]
               du and ehm
  19 Marina:            [ne,]
                         well
  20 Tina:   ↓mh=[WIE ] war das jetz nochmAl;=
             ehm what happened exactly
  21 Marina:     [und-]
                  and
  22 Tina    =aNIta hatte geschrieben dass die carla
             VOLKner tot is,
             Anita had written that Carla Volkner is dead
  23 Marina: ja nee briGITte; (.)
             yes no Brigitte
  24 Tina:   ach briGITte hat das geschrieben.
             oh Brigitte wrote that

With the du-preface, Tina self-selects as next speaker, disambiguates participant roles, and summons her recipient’s attention to the turn to be produced. Subsequently, Marina indeed stops talking and joint orientation is interactively achieved. The beginning of a new course of action is supported by the disjunctive prosody of Tina’s turn-preface. The preface is realized as a contour of its own. It features a nuclear accent on du and a high onset that is significantly higher than the prior turns and especially the turn proper, which shows a low onset (see Figure 2). The prosodic design of the preface supports indexing a sequential disjunction and projecting something new and noteworthy to come (Droste and Günthner 2020Droste, Pepe, and Susanne Günthner 2020 “‚das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;‘: Zum Zusammenspiel syntaktischer, prosodischer und sequenzieller Aspekte syntaktisch desintegrierter du-Formate. [‘das mAchst du bestimmt AUCH du;’: On the interplay of syntactic, prosodic and sequential aspects syntactically disintegrated formats of du.]” In Prosodie und Konstruktionsgrammatik. [Construction Grammar and Prosody], ed. by Wolfgang Imo, and Jens Philipp Lanwer, 75–110. Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter.Google Scholar; Rendle-Short 2007Rendle-Short, Johanna 2007 “ ‘Catherine, you’re Wasting your Time’: Address Terms within the Australian Political Interview.” Journal of Pragmatics 39: 1503–1525. CrossrefGoogle Scholar; see also Couper-Kuhlen 2004Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth 2004 “Prosody and Sequence Organization in English Conversation. The Case of New Beginnings.” In Sound Patterns in Interaction, ed. by Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen, and Cecilia E. Ford, 335–376. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins. CrossrefGoogle Scholar, 2009 2009 “Relatedness and Timing in Talk-in-interaction.” In Where Prosody Meets Pragmatics, ed. by Dagmar Barth-Weingarten, Nicole Dehé, and Anne Wichmann, 257–276. Bingley: Emerald. CrossrefGoogle Scholar).

Figure 2.Pitch and oscillogram of lines 16, 18, and 20; interferences resulting from overlap were carefully removed from the pitch contour; f0 (Hz) is plotted on a logarithmic scale
Figure 2.