Gender and allocutivity


  • Imke Driemel Humboldt University Berlin
  • Gurujegan Murugesan Indian Institute of Technology Jodhpur


The term ‘allocutivity’ refers to the grammatical encoding of speech act participants, i.e. speaker and addressee of an utterance, which may also describe the social relations that they share with each other like politeness and familiarity. This paper explores allocutivity and its interaction with gender marking by identifying three types of allocutive languages: plain allocutive languages, addressee allocutive languages, and speaker allocutive languages. In order to account for the presence and absence of gender marking as part of the allocutive expression, we propose an analysis that assumes speaker and addressee to instantiate implicit syntactic arguments (Speas & Tenny, 2003), which trigger gender marking if they are in the vicinity of a gender probe, situated on the speech act head. Locality is achieved via external Merge of the speaker argument and internal Merge of the hearer argument. The latter we derive from drawing parallels to object shift phenomena.