How Syntax meets with Pragmatics


Vocatives proposes a formal syntactic approach to vocatives. The analysis focuses on the internal structure of vocatives phrases and on the mechanism through which a vocative phrase connects with the clause. Vocatives are nouns that encode conversational pragmatic features at their left periphery. Any vocative phrase with this structure becomes the indirect object of a Speech Act head mapped at the left periphery of clauses. This analysis has implications for the debate on whether pragmatic features are mapped into syntax, and, subsequently, on how a grammar of direct address may look like. Since particles of direct address, imperatives and exclamations fall under the same umbrella of speech acts, they all need re-assessment from the same perspective.

"This book is a tour de force: Virginia Hill brings the vocative a category which had so far remained marginal and ill understood into main stream syntactic research by tying it in with recent progress in the study of the syntactization of pragmatic functions. What used to be a fringe phenomenon will now be part of the core theory."
Liliane Haegeman, Ghent University

"Virginia Hill has redrawn the syntax-pragmatics interface by nudging syntax into domains that are traditionally considered to be purely pragmatic in nature. She has done this with sophisticated analysis and a breathtaking array of cross-linguistic data."
Shigery Miyagawa, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Vocatives are a fundamental yet strangely neglected aspect of the grammar of many languages. General readers intrigued and perhaps puzzled by the nature of vocatives and how they are expressed cross-linguistically will find this a very helpful and enlightening book."
Martin Maiden, University of Oxford"

Full Access

E-Book MyBook price

EUR €25.00USD $25.00

E-Book List price

EUR €110.00USD $137.00

Biographical Note

Virginia Hill, Ph.D. (1991) is a Professor of Linguistics at the University of New Brunswick SJ. She has published extensively on Romanian diachronic syntax and on the mapping of the information structure in Balkan languages.


Researchers in theoretical and comparative linguistics. The book is also accessible to advanced undergraduate students.

Index Card

Collection Information