Terms of endearment in American Soap Operas : A corpus study of honey, sweetheart and darling

University essay from Linnéuniversitetet/Institutionen för språk och litteratur, SOL


This thesis investigates three terms of endearment in soap operas, namely honey, sweetheart and darling. The purpose is to determine how these terms are used and in what context. 200 tokens were taken from the Corpus of American Soap Operas which contains 10 different soaps. The results indicate that more women utilize terms of endearment overall in soap operas, both to men and to other females. However, women are also mostly addressed with these terms. Honey is used mostly woman-to-woman, sweetheart most man-to-woman and darling is used mostly by women addressing men. Furthermore, honey occurs most frequently and almost all terms are used in a positive way, but there were some few exceptions however. In general, a term of endearment is mostly utilized at the end of a sentence, and individuals who are addressed with honey, sweetheart or darling do notusually respond with a similar term in return. An analysis of the social relationships between the characters/speakers of terms of endearment was also conducted, and it indicated that romantic couples and mother-to-son were common constellations where these terms often occurred. Furthermore, no instances were found where men used terms of endearment to other men. Moreover, the portrayal of men and women in soaps are not that stereotypical that one may suspect, but there are still stereotypical characteristics to find. This paper also suggests that terms of endearment are more common in soap operas than in authentic speech. The conclusion is that the findings in this thesis are important but further and more comprehensive studies have to be conducted in order to establish that the results presented here are reliable and accurate.

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