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The Use of Address Terms by Saudi Facebook Users in Arabic: A Discursive Approach [ALRJournal]
ALRJournal. 2021; 5(4): 27-42 | DOI: 10.14744/alrj.2021.09825

The Use of Address Terms by Saudi Facebook Users in Arabic: A Discursive Approach

Mohammad Abdoh Mahzari
Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University

This study aimed to identify the address terms used by Saudi Facebook users and understand the address behavior in Facebook. Most of the studies investigated the use of address terms in Arabic in face-to-face communication, but not on Facebook, a dominant platform for everyday online communication and rich with naturalistic data. A total of 1258 Facebook comments were collected from 36 Facebook walls and analyzed based on Friederike Braun’s (1988) nouns of address. New types and sub-subtypes were added to Braun’s exhaustive list because of the Facebook context. While the Saudi Facebook users employed ten types of address terms, the most common were teknonyms, terms of endearment, proper names, and titles by appointment. Additionally, four types of endearment terms were used, such as fictive terms, affective vocatives, praise attributes, and diminutives. Of those terms, fictive terms and affective vocatives were the most common sub-types of terms of endearment. Moreover, the first name was used mostly with titles, such as duktu: r ‘doctor/professor,’ muhandis ‘engineer/architecture,’ and ʔustadh ‘professor/teacher.’ The function of titles was not to have a social distance with the Facebook poster, but to show appreciation or deference for the addressee. Specifically, titles were employed by friends, relatives, and colleagues to support a relationship, not to create social distance or reinforce the degree of formality. Finally, the functions and meanings of Arabic address terms need to be explored in public online platforms, such as Twitter, public Facebook walls, YouTube, etc.

Keywords: address terms, Saudis, Facebook, Arabic, politeness

Mohammad Abdoh Mahzari. The Use of Address Terms by Saudi Facebook Users in Arabic: A Discursive Approach. ALRJournal. 2021; 5(4): 27-42

Corresponding Author: Mohammad Abdoh Mahzari, Saudi Arabia
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