[An-lang] respect vocabulary

Waruno Mahdi mahdi at fhi-berlin.mpg.de
Mon Nov 8 14:28:10 UTC 2004

West of the Wallace line, style registers or social-rank specific
speech style levels, besides in Javanese and Sasak already
mentioned, occur in Balinese, Madurese, and Sundanese.
Like the better known situation in Javanese, these involve
several levels that are in turn sometimes split up into
sub-levels. But in the different languages, there are
different variations.

As a whole, besides a common style for speaking to familiar
equals or lower-ranking persons, there is a polite style
for speaking to higher ranking and sometimes to unfamiliar
equals. Then one can have a very-polite style for speaking to
very high ranking persons, and a particular version of that
for talking to the king. There also is a royal style used by
the king only. But as already said, each of the mentioned
languages is different in the number and variety of styles.

Often not mentioned are speech registers in Malagasy dialects
of the south of Madagascar, see:

   Verguin, J., 1957, Deux systèmes de vocabulaire parallèlle
   de Madagascar, Word 13:153-156.
  (where _è_ is e-grave)

Quite apart from this type of speech registers is of course
a much more widespread feature involving personal pronouns.
Some, if not the greater part of languages of Europe has
a common and a polite 2nd person singular pronoun (eg
French tu / vous - probably the best known case).
In insular as well as mainland Southeast Asia, one finds a
much more sophisticated system that involves the 1st, 2nd, as
well as 3rd person. Besides pronouns proper, this also features
numerous pronominalized kinship and titulatory terms.
Another characteristic feature of this system are pairs of
complementary pronoun-equivalents, such that the one speaker
uses the two terms of the pair for 1st and 2nd person, while
the speech partner uses the same terms in the respectively
opposite meaning.
It is not Austronesian in origin, I think, but is a feature
of a region-specific so-called language-league centered somewhere
in mainland Southeast Asia, that runs across boundaries of
language families. It involves Daic as well as Mon-Khmer, and I
believe also Hmong-Mien languages, not to mention several WMP
languages of West Indonesia.

Aloha,  Waruno

believe also Miao-Yao languages

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