Address from a World Perspective
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139


Choice of address forms, a socially crucial feature in German communication, is context-dependent on situations (a) where the unmarked form of address is (T), (b) where it is (V), and (c) where the two systems (a and b) coexist. The first two situations are, apart from their fuzzy edges, rather clearcut. The third situation, however, appears anarchic and has a high embarrassment potential. In an empirical study based on 72 interviews conducted in three regions of the German speaking area, the three prototypical situations are explored. A number of potentially conflicting rules and preferences for ambiguity are isolated. These include individual preferences, network preferences and perceptions of social distance, based on factors such as relative age, emotional closeness of interlocutors, and perceived commonalities between them. In spite of the complex interplay of competing rules and preferences and the consequent embarrassment potential, German speakers appear to reject any imposition from outside of a particular address form. This study is part of a larger, Australian-based project comparing the address systems of French, German and Swedish.

Available under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license.

Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bayer, K.
    1979 ‘Die Anredepronomina Du und Sie: Thesen zu einem semantischen Konflikt im Hochschulbereich’. Deutsche Sprache7 (3): 212–219.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Clyne, M.G.
    1995The German language in a changing Europe. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511620805
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511620805 [Google Scholar]
  3. Clyne, M.; Kretzenbacher, H.L.; Norrby, C.; Schüpbach, D.
    2006 ‘Perceptions of variation and change in German and Swedish address’. Journal of sociolinguistics10 (3): 283–315. doi: 10.1111/j.1360‑6441.2006.00329.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1360-6441.2006.00329.x [Google Scholar]
  4. Clyne, M.; Kretzenbacher, H.L.; Schüpbach, D.
    2004 ‘“Der größte Schritt, den man manchmal tun könnte”: Zur Anrede im Deutschen im internationalen Vergleich’. Sprachreport4: 2–8.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Ehlers, K.-H.
    2004 ‘Zur Anrede mit Titeln in Deutschland, Österreich und Tschechien. Ergebnisse einer Fragebogenerhebung’. Brücken. Germanistisches Jahrbuch Tschechien – SlowakeiNF12: 85–115.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Glück, H.; Sauer, W.W.
    1997Gegenwartsdeutsch. 2nd ed. Stuttgart: Metzler.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Hickey, R.
    2003 ‘The German address system: Binary and scalar at once’. InDiachronic perspectives on address term systems, edited byTaavitsainen I.; Jucker A.H.Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Kallmeyer, W.
    2003 ‘“Sagen Sie bitte du zu mir”: Werner Kallmeyer, Soziolinguist am Institut für Deutsche Sprache in Mannheim, über die Kunst der richtigen Anrede. Das Gespräch führte C. Schmitt’. Die Zeit 27. AccessedJuly 2, 2003. Available from: www.zeit.de/2003/27/Alltag_2fDuzen_27.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Kretzenbacher, H.L.
    1991 ‘Vom Sie zum Du – und retour?’ InVom Sie zum Du – mehr als eine neue Konvention? Antworten auf die Preisfrage der Deutschen Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung vom Jahr 1989, edited byKretzenbacher H.L.; Segebrecht W.Hamburg: Luchterhand.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Noelle-Neumann, E.; Köcher, R.
    Eds. 1997Allensbacher Jahrbuch der Demoskopie Band 10, 1993-1997. München: K. G. Saur/Allensbach: Verlag für Demoskopie.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Norrby, C.
    2006 ‘Variation in Swedish address practices’. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics29 (2): 18.1–18.15. doi: 10.2104/aral0618.
    https://doi.org/10.2104/aral0618 [Google Scholar]
  12. Spross, E.M.
    2001 ‘Das Du-Wort. Zur Anrede im Umgang mit anderen’. Unpublished PhD thesis. Graz, Austria: Karl-Franzens-Universität.
  13. Warren, J.
    2006 ‘Address pronouns in French: Variation within and outside the workplace’. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics29 (2): 16.1–16.17. doi: 10.2104/aral0616.
    https://doi.org/10.2104/aral0616 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error