Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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In many languages, personal pronouns are used to imply characteristics of speakers and social relationships between participants (Agha 2007). This is particularly true of members of the Tai language family, such as Zhuang (Kullavanijaya 2009), Standard Thai (Cooke 1968; Palakornkul 1972; Simpson 1997), Standard Lao (Enfield 1966; Compton 2002), Kham Mueang and Tai Lue (Rhekhalilit 2010). A number of studies of Southwestern Tai languages have found that the first person plural pronoun /haw/ or /raw/ can be used in several contexts, apart from referring to a group of speakers. For example, the pronoun /raw/ in Standard Thai indexes intimacy between participants when being used by particular individual speakers. The current paper investigates the Tai Lue first person plural pronoun and how it can be used in wider contexts. Adopting a qualitative approach, it aims at analyzing the pronoun /haw/ spoken in three dialects of Tai Lue, namely Tai Lue Chiang Mai (TLC), Tai Lue Luangphrabang (TLL), and Tai Lue Xishuangbanna (TLX). The data were collected through Labovian sociolinguistic interviews (1984), by which 27 informants were asked to narrate a story on controlled topics, and through participant observation. The analysis shows that the three selected dialects of Tai Lue concur in their use of the pronoun /haw/ as first person plural pronoun. However, it is found that each dialect uses pronoun the /haw/ with different shades of meaning when being used by individual speakers. Two dialects, TLC and TLL, tend to use the pronoun /haw/ to index intimacy while talking to addressees of younger age or lower social status. In TLX, pronoun /haw/ seems to be different in that it is exclusively used by monks. In conclusion, this study describes sociolinguistic use of the pronoun /haw/ in Tai Lue. It can be used either with unmarked first person plural meaning or first person singular meaning with some social indicates such as intimacy between participants and the status of monkhood.

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