Addressee (linguistics)

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In pragmatics, the addressee is the direct recipient of an utterance as intended by the sender of this utterance . In addition to the speaker, the addressee is considered to be one of the two primary pragmatic roles in conversation models.

Difference between addressee and listener

The addressee can deviate from the actual or indirect recipient of a linguistic utterance and should therefore not be equated with this. Levinson illustrates this with the phenomenon that in many languages ​​parents address each other with “dad”, “dad” or “mum”, “mum” and the like when their children are present during a conversation. In this case, the choice of address reflects the reference to the other listeners in the conversation. That's why it is

"[...] important that we do not confuse, as is often done in the linguistic and philosophical literature, the categories of address and hearer ."

"[...] it is important that we do not mix up the categories of addressee and listener , as is often done in linguistic and philosophical literature."

- Levinson

Grammatical status of the addressee

The addressee is closely related to the grammatical category of person insofar as the following linguistic utterances refer directly to the addressee:

  • Greetings and forms of address are used to represent a social relationship between the sender and the addressee;
  • Calls serve the sender to gain the attention of an addressee and to establish a communicative situation:
  • Imperative and Adhortativ of verbs serve an addressee for an activity (or its omission) prompt .

In many languages ​​of the world, extra-lingual characteristics of the addressee play an important role in the choice of the grammatical form of such utterances. The decisive factor is the number of addressees, who find their equivalent in the grammatical category number , but sometimes also the gender of the addressee and certain social parameters, such as the addressee's social status vis-à-vis the sender.

See also


  • Levinson, Stephen C .: Pragmatics . Cambridge University Press, 1983.