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ERIC Number: EJ877441
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 18
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-0155-0640
Keeping It All in the Family: "Tu," "Lei" and "Voi." A Study of Address Pronoun Use in Italian
Parkinson, Amber; Hajek, John
Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, Series S n18 p97-114 2004
Although the Italian system of address pronouns is relatively complex, scant attention is paid to the issue in L2 manuals designed for English-speaking learners of Italian. After showing that Italian L2 manuals are not necessarily accurate in the limited detail they provide, we examine specifically the frequent claim that so-called informal "tu" is always used within the family. Results of a large quantitative survey conducted with native speakers of Italian in Italy and Australia show the situation to be much more complicated. Alongside "tu," the more formal "Lei," and the often ignored "Voi," are also used, according to the interlocutor in question. Close genetic relation and proximity of age, operating independently of each other, are clear predictors of reciprocal use of "tu." Otherwise, non-reciprocal use of "Lei-tu" and "Voi-tu" and even the more formal reciprocal use of "Lei" are not unknown in a family setting. Observations are made as to how these patterns group, along with a number of other observations about pronoun use. Finally, pedagogical suggestions that might allow English-speaking learners of Italian to understand address pronouns in Italian better and use them more accurately are also provided. (Contains 7 tables, 3 figures, and 4 notes.)
Applied Linguistics Association of Australia. Available from: Monash University ePress. Building 4, Monash University, Wellington Road, Clayton 3800, Victoria, Australia. Fax: +61-3-9905 8450; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia; Italy