Social and politeness meanings of the second person singular pronoun SEN in Turkish: A comparative analysis

Forms of address are of vital importance for successful interaction and have long been regarded as salient indicators of the type of relationship between the interlocutors (Adair 2016; Bayyurt & Bayraktaroğlu 2001; Braun 1988; Chen 2016). Turkish, similarly to many Indo-European languages, has two second person pronouns for a singular addressee: SEN (i.e., the familiar/intimate you/Tu) and SIZ (i.e., the formal you/Vous). The current study focuses on the first of those and aims to achieve two goals. First, to identify the social meanings and the level of politeness associated with this pronoun in present day Turkish and, second, to compare and contrast these meanings with the ones identified a decay ago (Hatipoğlu 2008). By doing these, the study hopes to uncover whether or not the functions of this particular address form and the interpretations of its level of politeness have changed in a decay. Which, in turn, it is hoped, will reveal important information related to how relations were and are defined and classified in the Turkish society. To have comparable corpora, the data in the present study were collected from groups of participants with parallel characteristics to the earlier study (i.e., university students with age range 18-35) and the questionnaire used ten years ago was utilized again. The data collection tool consisted of two sections. The first part was designed to elicit information related to the students’ background while the latter section included open and close ended questions aiming to gather data related to the meaning, function and level of politeness of SEN in various contexts in the Turkish society. The findings of the study show that some of the more stable meanings (e.g., closeness) and patterns of use (e.g., when addressing family members) related to the pronoun SEN in Turkish have remained unchanged in the last ten years; but the results also show how factors such as developments in technology, globalisation and political change in the country have created new meanings and interpretations of this address term in the Turkish society.


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Citation Formats
Ç. Hatipoğlu, “Social and politeness meanings of the second person singular pronoun SEN in Turkish: A comparative analysis,” presented at the 4th Meeting of the International Network of Address Research (INAR 4), ( 8 - 09 June 2017), Helsinki, Finlandiya, 2017, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: