Culture, Communication, and Cooperation

Patricia Covarrubias

Cover of Culture, Communication, and Cooperation

For those who find it useful to conceive of a language as a meaning-conveying instrument embedded in a cultural system, this brief, well-written treatment of pronominal address in Spanish will hold few surprises, but it will provide welcome and well-reasoned documentation of the major positions, supplemented by equally welcome expansions and elaborations of familiar points.

Speakers of Spanish tend to address some interlocutors on some occasions using second-person verb forms, while addressing others, or the same on different occasions, using third-person forms, variably reinforcing the verbal morphology with the pronoun in the first cases and usted in the second.

The author investigates alternative forms of what she calls “pronominal address” (irrespective of whether the pronoun is actually used), with data obtained from observations of workers at a construction company in Veracruz, Mexico, and from their own explanations of why they use one address form or the other.

A good sample of the data is provided, presented in standard Spanish orthography with good, readable translations into English.

For theoretical underpinning, the author offers the ethnography of speaking (Hymes 1962) and speech codes (Philipsen 1997).

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