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The present research study was carried out in the broader frame of Sociolinguists to unveil the usage of pronominals and address terms in Kashmiri. As any other sociolinguistic study, this study aimed at exploring the social basis of the usage of pronominals and address terms. With respect to the use of pronominals, the only aspect that was investigated in this study was how their usage is shaped by the social variables like age, gender, education etc. The variation in the usage of pronominals was therefore explored across all these variables. The goal of studying the address terms was to explore the repertoire of address terms in Kashmiri, classify them into different categories and then explain the usage of these address terms.
The research questions were: How pronominal usage in Kashmiri is based on the extralinguistic variables and how is the usage of address terms in Kashmiri influenced by the relationship between interlocutors, social variables of gender, age, educational and/or occupational rank, and other factors associated with participants. Using observation and questionnaire as the main research tools, examples of address forms were collected from the Kashmiri speakers. With respect to the findings of the study on pronominal usage, the following points could be stressed: The findings of the study suggest that all the factors that were taken up for investigation (age, gender, place of residence, education and the relationship between the interlocutors), play an important role in choosing one pronoun over another in the Kashmiri language. However, the impact of these variables on the choice of pronominal usage varies. Starting with the variable age of the speaker, the results suggest that age as a social variable has varying effects on the pronominal usage in different domains like family, workplace, and a random place etc. The overall results show that the use of the differential forms of the address pronominal and reference pronominal increases with age and then decreases again. These findings came from studying the three age groups roughly representing the three different stages of life. The results confirm that the social pressures are highest during the age of 26 to 45 years and people belonging to this age group are guided by social norms.
The activity of the people belonging to this age group conform to the social norms and politeness is an important ingredient of the behavior of the people of this age. Another aspect of this is the opening up of social domains during this age which brings along new responsibilities to the people. The relatively higher use of the non-deferential forms of pronominals during adolescence and old age can be attributed to two different reasons: less social pressure in the case of adolescents and a high degree of familiarity with the people, in the case of old age. Another variable playing a significant role in the pronominal choice is gender. In the light of the findings of this study, it is reported that males of all age groups with varying social attributes use tsi more than the females. The findings are in consonance with most of the prior studies including Labov’s pioneering work. The more frequent use of the by females indicates their prestige conscious nature along with displaying reserved nature and less public interaction leading to the formality of their language. Similar results were found in the case of reference pronominal. Comparing the results of the pronominal usage among the rural and the urban people, it is concluded that the use of the informal pronominal tsI is more frequently used by the rural people whereas the urban people use the yim and tim more frequently.
The use of the informal forms of the address pronominal and the reference pronominal may be attributed to the close-knitted structure of the rural communities. The close-knitted nature of the rural communities results in fostering familiarity among the members of the community which gets reflected in the more frequent use of the informal/ familiar form of the pronoun. The social variable of education is also considered to produce a patterned variation in the pronominal usage. The results of this study show that education as a factor has a huge impact on the pronominal usage. The educated people use the deferential forms of the address pronominal and reference pronominals more frequently than the uneducated people.
Regarding the relationship with the addressee, it was found that the pronominal usage varies to a great deal and this variation caused by the relationship with the addressee is the maximum. It was found that in the family domain the use of the I is predominant. Within the kinship domain itself, the usage with the consanguineal kins is predominantly that of tsI whereas the is used more frequently with the affines. As we move away from the family domain, the only relationships where I am used overwhelmingly is the friends and classmates. With all other interlocutors, the differential forms of the pronominals are used more frequently. With respect to the findings of the study on address terms, the following points could be stressed: In the case of the address terms, the attempt of the researcher to categorize the address expressions in Kashmiri can be regarded as a pioneering effort to highlight the rich repertoire of address terms on the one hand and the changeability and enrichment of these terms on the other. Thus the major goal in undertaking the present study was to draw the overall scheme of address terms that Kashmiri addressers might use to address their addresses. The categorization of the address terms into thirteen categories does not imply that all the categories all equal in terms of their importance, frequency and utility. Each of the categories has its special usage for particular interlocutors and under certain conditions. The huge range of honorifics in Kashmiri and the frequency of their usage in all social domains with a huge range of people reveal the importance of courtesy in this language. It implies that courteous and respectful interaction is an important feature of Kashmiri address system. It also shows that Kashmiri speakers are very conscious about their face work. Another important feature of Kashmiri is the use of kinship address terms.
Kashmiri is found to be relying very much on the family relations and this is notable in the usage of kinship terms for non-kins. Restricted use of the personal names and singular address pronominal on the one hand and the use general and professional titles, honorifics and terms of formality show that the sense of formality is also another significant feature of Kashmiri culture and language in general and terms of address in particular. Borrowing new terms of address and refraining the use of some others over time which is one of the characteristic features of dynamic languages shows that the Kashmiri language is dynamic enough to comply with the sociocultural changes in its speech community. For addressing one another, Kashmiri interlocutors can adopt many different strategies and techniques. This flexible feature of the address system provides the Kashmiri speakers with a huge range of terms to address the addressees. Usage of an appropriate address term is influenced by variables as age, gender, status, family relationship, the degree of respect, familiarity, formality and intimacy between the interlocutors.
The existence of loanwords from other languages indirectly accounts for the long history of Kashmiri language and its interaction with other cultures. As a result, Kashmiri speakers use terms from other relevant oriental languages like Arabic, Sanskrit, and Persian in their expression. In general, the overall study of the address terms in this study makes it evident that Kashmiri address terms are, relatively formal, gender sensitive and socially, culturally and politically loaded. Moreover, the thrust on using honorifics, kinship terms in their special usage and the coinage of religion-oriented terms stand for the sociocultural and sociopolitical function of the address terms in Kashmiri.
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