SOCIOLINGUISTIC AND SOCIOCULTURAL FEATURES OF LANGUAGE USE: FORMS OF ADDRESS IN BRITISH ENGLISH AND SPANISH
Forms of address are an important means of expressing both identity and relationship with the interlocutor. The choice is governed by various aspects of social and cultural context (age, distance, status, physical setting, the level of intimacy, emotional involvement etc). Speakers of the same cultural community may construct different systems of sociolinguistic rules in reference to addressing others depending upon their identity in a linguistic subcommunity. Nevertheless, there are some rules which are shared by the majority of the cultural community and form a communicative ethnostyle (Larina 2015) distinguishing one communicative culture from another. These aspects should be given specific importance in the FLT classroom so as to enable students to communicate in accordance with norms and traditions of the target culture.
This paper investigates the sociocultural features that govern contemporary use of English (British English) and Spanish forms of address in different social settings focusing both on their similarities and differences. We draw on G. Hofstede’s cultural dimensions (1991), politeness theory (Brown and Levinson 1987, Hickey and Stewart 2005, Leech 2014, Watts 2003), Intercultural pragmatics (Kecskes 2014, Wierzbicka 1991/2003), and address forms theory (Braun 1988, Clyne, Norrby & Warren 2009 and others). The data has been obtained through observation, questionnaires and interviews. The study focuses on main tendencies which illustrate the impact of culture on communicative behaviour and argues that the success of effective communication, intercultural in particular, depends to a large extent on the proper choice of an address form and requires not only linguistic but sociolinguistic and sociocultural competence as well. It is important to develop this competence in the process of language teaching and learning by using innovative methods. The paper demonstrates the above with special focus in the teaching of English and Spanish as a second language.
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