When ‘You' Means ‘I': The German 2Nd Ps.Sg. Pronoun Du between Genericity and Subjectivity

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Version: Final published version
License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Serval ID
serval:BIB_04B77CEE8491
Type
Article: article from journal or magazin.
Collection
Publications
Institution
Title
When ‘You' Means ‘I': The German 2Nd Ps.Sg. Pronoun Du between Genericity and Subjectivity
Journal
Open Linguistics
Author(s)
Auer Peter, Stukenbrock Anja
ISSN
2300-9969
Publication state
Published
Issued date
01/01/2018
Peer-reviewed
Oui
Volume
4
Number
1
Pages
280-309
Language
english
Abstract
In this paper, we first present a close analysis of conversational data, capturing the variety of
non-addressee deictic usages of du in contemporary German. From its beginnings, it has been possible
to use non-addressee deictic du not only for generic statements, but also for subjective utterances by a
speaker who mainly refers to his or her own experiences. We will present some thoughts on the specific
inferences leading to this interpretation, making reference to Bühler’s deixis at the phantasm. In the second
part of the paper, we show that non-addressee deictic du (‘thou’) as found in present-day German is not an
innovation but goes back at least to the 18th century. However, there is some evidence that this usage has
been spreading over the last 50 years or so. We will link non-addressee deictic du back historically to the
two types of “person-shift” for du discussed by Jakob Grimm in his 1856 article “Über den Personenwechsel
in der Rede” [On person shift in discourse]. Grimm distinguishes between person shift in formulations
of “rules and law” on the one hand, and person shift in what he calls “thou-monologue” on the other.
The subjective interpretation of non-addressee-deictic du in present-day German may have originated from
these “thou-monologues”.
Web of science
Open Access
Yes
Create date
02/12/2020 21:03
Last modification date
03/12/2020 7:24
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