The honorific third person plural in Slavic

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    Although much has been written about polite forms of address in Slavic, the grammatical expression of respect for a person that does not take part in the conversation has hitherto received little to no attention. Yet this type of honorific reference is widely found in the Slavic languages, especially in dialects and substandard varieties. In the present article I shall distinguish between three types of honorific reference to a person spoken about and focus on the type that I think is most current in Slavic dialects, viz. honorific reference to elder relatives, and, by extension, other familiar older persons and priests. I shall first present an analysis of the use of the construction and the kind of respect involved. One of the characteristics that make this honorific plural interesting from a typological point of view is that it is primarily used for respected persons the speaker has an in-group relationship with: if there is too much ‘horizontal distance’ it is not used. Then I shall give a picture of the distribution of this type of honorific third person plural across the Slavic language area. It will become clear that it is found across a more or less continuous area from Slovene in the southwest to central Ukrainian in the northeast.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-26
    Number of pages26
    JournalRussian Linguistics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 17-Jan-2018

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