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In Late Middle English, the system of second-person pronouns with singular referents is characterised by retractable choices based on the interactional status of interlocutors. This system has until recently been documented mostly in studies based on poetic texts, such as the by Chaucer, and, to a lesser extent, private correspondence and mystery plays. We use the as a primary source and offer the perspective of a middle-class female author from early-fifteenth-century Norfolk. Conventional politeness of Margery Kempe requires the default use of forms, especially when addressees are unfamiliar, older or socially superior, but also in situations of mutual acceptance and deference. forms, on the other hand, indicate social or intellectual superiority as well as, at the interactional level, condescension, contempt, annoyance, defiance and abuse. Their use, therefore, is typically marked.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keywords: pronominal terms of address ; Middle English ; interactional status ; Margery Kempe
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