Persian address pronouns and politeness in interaction
In this thesis, I aim to investigate the variation of Persian pronominal address system and politeness strategies in contemporary Iranian society from a quantitative and qualitative sociolinguistic perspective. I focus on Persian speakers’ use and perception of pronominal address forms in the light of socio-cultural norms in contemporary Iran. Persian, has two personal pronouns for singular address, to ([to]) the familiar or intimate ‘you’ and šoma ([∫oma:]) the deferential or formal ‘you’ (historically the second person plural but now also used as second person singular). Moreover, Persian is a pro-drop language, so the interaction between address pronouns and agreement marking on the verb must be taken into account. Another significant feature of colloquial Persian is a hybrid usage of the overt deferential second person pronoun and informal agreement forming a mismatch construction (i.e. šoma with 2s verb agreement) and intra-speaker pronominal address switches that occur between the deferential and casual pronominal address forms. Those deviations from the prescribed forms and/or distribution of the address pronouns are very interesting aspects that may show different levels of politeness even in one utterance. Consequently, this research examines spontaneous data looking at the sociolinguistic distributions and the pragmatic functions of pronominal address forms in contemporary Persian language and politeness synchronically. Three types of spontaneous data were collected for the purpose of analysis: a) participant observation, b) natural media conversations and c) sociolinguistic interviews with Persian speakers. In this study, the quantitative analysis investigates the correlation of pronominal address forms with extralinguistic factors such as age and gender of speaker and addressee in the interactional data. The qualitative analysis sheds light on how pronominal address forms and their variation encode communicative strategies in face-to-face interactions. Based on triangulation of quantitative and qualitative results with sociolinguistic interviews, I propose a dynamic model of indexicality for Persian pronominal address forms, which accommodates different forms and functions of address pronouns in interactional stances.