Terms of address as discourse markers

2020. №6, 7-30

Dmitriy M. Kolyadov
Institute for Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, Russia; dkoliadov@gmail.com


The article investigates pragmatics of terms of address in interaction (interview) that appear in initiating position in a sequence. It is argued that their description ‘from the outside’ of discourse — as means of management of addressee’s attention, expression of social relations or interpersonal distance, or as speech acts (e.g. prohibitions, orders, etc.) — are not always suffi cient or comprehensive. The aim of the article is to demonstrate that in some contexts terms of address serve as discourse markers dividing thematically separate fragments of discourse. In order to reveal this discourse processing function, terms of address are described at the level of organization higher than single utterances, namely at the level of sequences of utterances that constitute dialogue. From this perspective, terms of address can be seen as items placed at the border between two sequences, usually at the beginning of the second sequence. Each sequence appears to be topically bounded and two sequences divided by a term of address are devoted to diff erent topics. This diff erence can be identifi ed by a researcher, but at the same time it is of relevance for the interlocutors themselves, as the analysis demonstrates. It is also argued that functioning of terms of address as discourse markers can be explained through the organizational principle of the interaction-initiating sequence rather than the attention-drawing function. According to this principle, in such contexts terms of address not only serve as summons, but project at least one next action from the summoner.

For citation:

Kolyadov D. M. Address terms as discourse markers. Voprosy Jazykoznanija, 2020, 6: 7–30.


Earlier draft of this paper was discussed in the Sociolinguistic seminar at European University in Saint Petersburg in April, 2018. I am grateful to the colleagues who took part in the discussion. I am particularly indebted to the researchers from Center for Arctic Social Studies (CESIS): Kseniya Gavrilova, Valeria Vasilyeva and Anastasia Karaseva, who have given me access to the materials. I am also grateful to the anonymous reviewers, whose comments and critical remarks were helpful
in improving the text.