Royal Semantics: Linguacultural Reflections on the Danish Address Pronoun De

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This paper provides an original analysis of “the Danish De” from a semantic and cultural-discursive perspective. Traditionally, De is classified under the so-called “V”-pronouns of European languages, but this classification does not explain well the highly Danish-specific ways in which the De operates in discourse. Following the lead of Wierzbicka’s meaning-based turn in address studies, the paper contributes to the new exploration of European linguacultures of address, and to the study of “relational grammars”. Breaking free from the stranglehold of the simplistic T-V paradigm, the paper applies instead the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) as it tools for high-resolution semantic and discursive analysis. The paper finds that none of the two main address types, the Anglo and the Continental system, fit the description of the Danish De, and as a result, it is argued that we need to rethink, sharpen and improve our metalanguage of analysis, in order to account for the
address diversity across European linguacultures.
Original languageEnglish
JournalANU Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Terms of Address
  • Danish Semantics
  • Relational Grammar

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