Address and Referential Terms in Swedish and British Schools : A Sociolinguistic Perspective

University essay from Högskolan i Halmstad/Akademin för lärande, humaniora och samhälle

Abstract: Modes of address between speakers in Sweden and the U.K differ from each other, yet both countries are influenced by similar mass media and aspects of globalization that otherwise generally lean towards linguistic convergence. Survey data from students and teachers in UK and Sweden has revealed some noteworthy differences. Even though these are two Western European countries with rather similar cultures and conventions, their address systems have developed in relatively diverse ways. Therefore, this study aims to highlight the sociolinguistic aspects in the chosen languages, and how they play a role in the usage of address modes and referential terms in the two countries, primarily in schools, but other contexts are also considered. The purpose of the study is to establish how conventions regarding modes of address and referential terms vary between the two countries studied, and whether claims made following previous research satisfactorily account for such differences that might exists. Following a review of existing studies, primary qualitative research was conducted which involved interviewing students and teachers in Sweden, and this revealed which expectations and preferences are similar, and which differ, between the countries.  This study concluded that less formal modes of addressing in schools and other institutions are favoured in Sweden, whereas the UK generally adopts stricter forms of address, with hierarchial differences evident within the same institutions. This reveals one aspect of how discourse norms and sociocultural climates in the UK differ from those in Sweden. Swedish discourse norms appear to have been more influenced by globalization and mass media than the UK, and national culture and values appear to have a greater influence on the discourse norms in the UK.

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