Around 1970 Swedish address forms underwent a change from an intricate system of honorifics, titles and names, to a nearly universal use of the informal 2nd person singular du. The Swedish socalled “du-reform” was more forceful than the corresponding processes of informalization in other languages around the same time period, e.g. in English, French, German and Finnish. Most studies on this subject, however, have been based entirely on reported usage. There are very few attempts at analyzing address forms in context, as they were used as the change took place.
This study compares address forms in advertising films across time: address forms used both in the dialogue and in viewer address. The data consist of films from 1915–1979 in the collections of the Swedish Film Institute.
The paper shows that while formal address forms decrease and then vanish in the 1960’s, there is no corresponding increase in informal address. Informal address is used in certain contexts, like rhymes, songs and slogans, which seems to facilitate the use of informal address forms where formal address forms otherwise would have been expected – as in viewer address.
For a short paper in English on viewer address, with partly the same examples as in the present study, see Fremer (forthcoming).
2015. Vol. 25, 88-126 p.