A Study of Effect of Students’ Socioeconomic Class on their Selection of Address Forms: A Pakistani Perspective

Author: Tallat Jabeen (Riphah International University, Pakistan)
Speaker: Tallat Jabeen
Topic: Ethnography of Communication
CALA 2020 General Session


A study of use of address terms could help in reflecting upon the interpersonal relationship of the speaker and addressee, socio-cultural aspects and politeness strategies of speech community. Since the 1960s a number of sociolinguistic and contextual factors have been studied which have tended to affect speakers’ selection of address variants. This study is a continuation in the same tradition, aimed to investigate linguistic variants used to address faculty by university students belonging to a varied socioeconomic class, utilizing Rahman’s (1998) perspective on cultural invasion and linguistic politeness. Data were elicited by a semi structured questionnaire, participant and non-participant observation and introspection method. The analysis of data revealed three major findings. First, the two groups majorly used various forms of titles and personal names for faculty in face to face interaction and did not employ kinship terms to address faculty. Second, the students belonging to two income groups were similar in their selection of address variants for faculty, though, a few high income group students used distinct variants for faculty-this was only when the addresser and addressee were of almost the same age, familiar and where there was less cost of breaking a cultural taboo. Third, the socioeconomic class of the participants was less likely to influence their selection of address variants in face to face interactions. Their choices seemed to be governed more by other factors such as age, formality, gender, socio-cultural orientation and institutional tradition thus, need to be taken into account in future studies to have deeper insight into the phenomenon.

Keywords: address forms, socio-economic class, students, culture, interaction