Chew, Grace (2015) Vietnamese Terms of Address and Person-References: Ideological Change and Stability. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis joins a series of semantics and historical pragmatics studies about the changing nature of language. It adopts a pragma-historical linguistic perspective in describing and comparing the semantic and functional developments of Vietnamese terms of address and person-references (hereafter, ToA/Rs) that experienced dramatic changes. It theoretically charts their changing discourse functions and meanings, anchoring such developments to the “triggering” mechanisms caused by the oft-neglected dimensions of ideology and interactants’ ideological stance-takings. The change processes could be escalated, impeded and reversed by ideologies and stances which interacted with the broader political and social contexts. This approach of study is “diachronic form-to-function mapping” in diachronic pragmatics, taking a ToA/R as a starting point and tracing its development (Jacobs & Jucker, 1995: 13). Because contextual aspects such as addresser-addressee relationships, communication “rules”, and the physical and social environments of the literature shape ideology, operationalising the micro-level discourses in the text, the approach may fall under pragmaphilology (ibid.:11)(Chapter 2, this thesis). In reality, approaches may overlap because forms undergoing diachronic form-to-function may change or lose their forms, or may be replaced because of functional changes, thus realising the diachronic function-to-form approach (ibid.: 13). Examples of such changes are the other-condescending and self-deprecating ToA/Rs (e.g., §4.7, 4.8, 5.6). Collectively, the ToA/Rs articulate both stable and unstable meanings and functions, contradicting the current model of the linearity of change (Objectivity>Subjectivity>Intersubjectivity)(Traugott & Dasher, 2002)(§2.6, this thesis).
This thesis defies the preponderant view that advocates the study of meanings and stances in the gradual construal of utterances. It argues that collocations and co-occurring contextual features such as the relative ages and relationships of the User and Addressee/Audience /referent are significant for grasping meanings and stances. In the applications of ToA/Rs, the projections of identities and persona can become apparent (Chapter 5 and 6, this thesis). Unlike in English, the Vietnamese ToA/Rs function differently, and have overlapping boundaries between person referential functions and membership categories (Chapter 4). This thesis crosses disciplinary boundaries to clarify the meanings of currently misunderstood ToA/Rs, illuminates certain communicative practices (Chapter 6) and sheds light on the evolution and appropriation of ToA/Rs, illustrated non-exclusively with historical episodes in Sino-Vietnamese interaction (Chapter 6). Its arguments are further strengthened with examples from rarely exploited vernacular resources written in the ancient demotic script, Nôm (§2.3). Overall, this study illuminates the perpetuating metaphysical value that respects traditional social hierarchies and authorities blended with affection. Under egalitarian pressures over time, the disregard for self-denigration, direct other-condescension, or other-elevation in informal contexts, together with the regard for indirect displays of negative stances facilitate the construction of a complementary framework for predicting change in ToA/Rs (Table 5-1).

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