The researcher as ‘older sister’, ‘younger sister’ and niece’: playing the roles defined by the Vietnamese pronominal reference system

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    SAGE Publishing
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    The researcher as ‘older sister’, ‘younger sister’ and niece’: playing the roles defined by the Vietnamese pronominal reference system

    Szymanska-Matusiewicz

    Article available here

    The article considers the relationship between the researcher and the researched while conducting field research in Vietnam. The specificity of the relationships are caused by one of the characteristic features of Vietnamese language – the complicated system of terms of address and reference, based on such factors as sex, age and social position of the interlocutors. Due to the relational nature of Vietnamese terms of address, speakers are forced to define their own role and its relation to the role of the interlocutor. Adopting the interaction strategy imposed by the features of Vietnamese language has methodological implications. On one hand, the researcher experiences serious limitations in their ability to control the research situation, while on the other hand, they gain the opportunity to approximate the experience of being in a particular role: that of a woman subordinated to a man, a ‘niece’ subordinated to an elderly aunt or an ‘older sister’ whose status is higher than a younger man’s.

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