How to address? Variation and change in address practices

Project Details


This project focuses on address practices in Finnish and several other languages (e.g. English, Estonian, French, Hungarian, Russian, Swedish). The approach is contrastive: by comparing different languages, our aim is to identify both language and culture specific features and cross-cultural similarities in address practices. Our aim is to answer the following research questions:
1. What kinds of address forms (pronouns, nominal forms) are used in Finnish and other languages nowadays? How have address practices changed and what types of changes are still underway? How are these changes related to social and cultural changes in different societies?
2. What kinds of attitudes are there toward different kinds of address forms?
3. How do differences in address practices affect intercultural contacts?

The research questions are tackled in three interlinked sub-projects.
1) Changes in address practices in traditional and new media
a. Real-time changes in television programs.
b. Address practices in social media – new medium, new practices?

2) Challenges of choosing the appropriate way of address in health care and service encounters
a. Focuses on Finnish address practices in authentic situations (hospitals and retirement homes; service encounters in public and private sector)
b. The practices of teaching how to address – How are nurses, public servants, sales clerks etc. taught to address their patients and clients?
c. Attitudes toward address practices, especially among students of health care and service professions.

3) Address behavior and intercultural contacts in educational settings and workplaces
a. Focuses on intercultural contacts in different kinds of settings: service encounters, health care, educational settings.
b. How are Finnish address practices perceived by, for example, immigrants.
c. Contrasting Finnish to other languages (e.g. Estonian, French)

Sociolinguistics in its different forms provides the common framework for all project participants. Combining different types of data (e.g. interviews and questionnaires) and different types of methods (e.g. variation studies, conversation analysis and discourse studies) is a common denominator for most of the projects. Majority of the data is collected from authentic interactional situations.

The project produces new information about current address practices in Finnish. Although address practices are a part of everyday language use, a part that is often considered somewhat problematic, there isn’t much research on the topic. The aim of this project is to develop new theoretical and methodological approaches for studying address practices. Most of the previous research on the topic has focused on attitudes towards address practices instead of actual address behavior. The current project broadens the scope by using data from authentic interactional situations.

The current project provides new linguistic information on address practices but it also has strong links with everyday life. The outcomes of the project can be utilized for example in educating health care professionals, journalists and in teaching intercultural communication in primary, secondary and higher education.
Effective start/end date01/01/201431/12/2018


  • Unknown funder

Fields of Science

  • 6121 Languages

Research Output

Forms of address choices among Finnish and French university students and native French teachers

Holttinen, T. E. & Isosävi, J. M., 23 Jan 2019, (Accepted/In press) Address forms across cultures in educational settings . Bayyurt, Y., Hatipoğlu, Ç. & Marti, L. (eds.). John Benjamins

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

Imaginary Customers and Public Figures: Visual Material as Stimuli in Studies of Address Practices

Lappalainen, H., Nov 2019, It's not all about you: New perspectives on address research. Kluge, B. & Moyna, M. I. (eds.). John Benjamins, p. 100-121 22 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

Variation in address practices across languages and nations: A comparative study of doctors’ use of address forms in medical consultations in Sweden and Finland

Wide, C., Lappalainen, H., Rouhikoski, A., Norrby, C., Lindholm, C., Lindström, J. & Nilsson, J., 20 Aug 2019, In : Pragmatics. 29, 4, p. 595-621 27 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Open Access


Sinä vai te? Puhuttelu meillä ja muualla

Hanna Lappalainen (Chair of organizing committee), Johanna Marika Isosävi (Member of organizing committee), Tuuli Holttinen (Member of organizing committee), Eva Elisabeth Havu (Member of organizing committee), Ildiko Vecsernyes (Member of organizing committee), Pirkko Sinikka Nuolijärvi (Member of organizing committee), Mononen Kaarina (Member of organizing committee), Maria Henrika Fremer (Member of organizing committee), Vehkanen Marjut (Member of organizing committee), Ksenia Eskola (Member of organizing committee)
3 Oct 2018

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars

Press / Media

Teitittelyn ja sinuttelun vaihtelulle on syynsä

Johanna Isosävi & Hanna Lappalainen


1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media

Miksi monikossa puhuttelu on kohteliasta?

Hanna Lappalainen


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

Haastattelu teitittelystä

Hanna Lappalainen


1 item of Media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media