2007 | 31 | 83-92
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Polite forms of address of Grodnian and Podlassian nobility: an outline

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The topic of the article is the language and culture of minor nobility. Two groups of nobility from the Grodno region and Podlassia were compared. The former represents the nobility of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, while the latter inhabits western Podlassia, which was temporarily located within the borders of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. However, this group of nobility has Mazovian roots and was resettling from the northern Mazovia in 14th and 15th century. Both groups share similar wealth and social status, but are divided by the culture of everyday life and the language. Podlassian nobility speaks Mazovian dialect, while nobles from the Grodno region use Polish from northern borderlands. Both groups agree that politeness is the feature distinguishing a nobleman from a peasant, which is important in the situation of levelling the wealth and social differences between those social classes. The linguistic exponent of politeness are forms of address. Currently the address forms in both groups are similar and have changed only to minor extent in comparison with the forms from the end of the 19th century. The evidence for this can be found in ethnographic studies of Mazovian and Podlassian nobility, as well as in the works of E. Orzeszkowa concerning Grodnian nobles. The similarity (identity) of polite forms of address in the analyzed groups, despite the different languages used, is an evidence for a great culture community of the nobility, as well as for linguistic conservatism of this class, which has to this day preserved the old manners of expressing politeness.
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  • E. Golachowska, Instytut Slawistyki PAN, ul. Bartoszewicza 1B m. 17, 00-337 Warszawa, Poland
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