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Project: Function and form of the Spanish nominal vocative: between production, cognition and personality.

2019-11-01 – 2023-10-31


In everyday speech, Spanish speakers frequently use vocatives, defined as (pro)nominal expressions used to directly address the interlocutor. Besides prototypical ‘proper noun’- vocatives, they have a wide gamut of vocatives at their disposal derived from common nouns and adjectives, which assume different interpersonal functions in discourse. As a result, the vocative is considered a strikingly productive category in Spanish, in terms of both its token frequency and type productivity. This project aims to provide a fine-grained analysis of the use of nominal vocatives in contemporary Spanish, by adopting a cognitive-functional approach. An initial in-depth linguistic study focuses on the Spanish vocative's formal and functional scope, which will then be scrutinized in light of the broad interactional context, integrating a wide range of sociological (e.g. age/gender) and context-related (e.g. interpersonal relationship) variables involved in the production of vocatives. Finally, since the way people talk is intimately associated to their personality and affected by psychologically relevant situation characteristics, individuals’ vocative usage will be examined in light of both personality traits and situational perceptions. Corpus analyses will be combined with experimental methods (personality test and situational evaluations), in order to capture the underlying usage mechanisms and effects of this interactive linguistic phenomenon.

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