Linguistics in Göttingen - A platform for empirical and theoretical linguistics

Marcela Rivadeneira Valenzuela (Temuco - Chile): Forms of address in Chile: An approximation to (socio)linguistic variation

In Chile there are three forms to address a speaker: voseo, tuteo and ustedeo. Voseo is the combination of a verb form derived from the second person plural with pronoun vos or (Torrejón 1986). Tuteo and ustedeo are restricted to canonical usage, combining and usted with the second and third person singular, respectively. The three systems have co-existed since at least the XIX century (voseo and tuteo are registered from the beginning of the colonial period in the XVI c., while ustedeo is introduced in the XIX c.) in very specific communicative contexts, in which, for example, ustedeo is limited to formal, respectful and very intimate usage, tuteo is used in formal/informal situations between equal speakers, and voseo is restricted to close, intimate, spontaneous interactions. The main distinction to be noticed is that, while tuteo and ustedeo are accepted forms of address, voseo has not yet been included in the standard norm (as with the Argentinian case), which means that it is confined only to colloquial speech. A change has been observed, nevertheless, during recent years, for the use of voseo seems to be rapidly spreading along the stylistic continuum, now present in the media (radio, television, print newspapers), Internet (all types of sets: chatrooms, twitter, facebook, etc.) and adversting in general. This could be the result of a slow constant shift taking place among the Chilean speech community, converging now into an apparently more equal society, characterized mainly by a social stratification in which a large percent of the population declares themselves belonging to the middle class. This issue seems relevant when we are concerned with linguistic variation, since forms of address are actually the mirror of a society inasmuch as they are used to establish the relationship between speakers. In this respect, voseo is one way to express the other that they are equal, close members of a social group showing solidarity and involvement. In this work, I will present some results from a research project entitled "El voseo en Chile: Un cambio lingüístico en desarrollo. Aspectos internos y externos de la variación" ("The voseo in Chile: A linguistic change in progress. Internal and external aspects of variation"). Among other things, the study includes the evaluation of different sociolinguistic variables through interviews with urban informants from different geographical areas of the country. Here I will explore some features concerning the relationship between age, sex, and geographical origin on the choice of forms of address.