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South African Journal of African Languages

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Terms of address usage by police officers at Mbare Police Station, Harare, in conversation with complainants

Partson Kufakunesu, John Mutambwa, George Mavunga

Abstract


This article describes terms of address usage by police officers at Mbare Police Station, Harare, in conversation with members of the public who came to report cases from 3 June 2010 to 12 October 2010. The researchers visited the police station on selected days to avoid routine and in the hope of capturing a variety of cases. Two data-gathering techniques were used in this research, namely participant observation and the interview. For participant observation, the researchers posed as members of the public who had come to seek services offered by the police. This was done to in order not to influence the police officers’ natural conversational behaviour. Interviews were held with nine police officers. The main findings of the research were that linguistic features such as pronouns and kinship terms were used by the police officers, in some cases, to show socially expected respect to members of the public despite the police officers’ positions and, in other cases, for solidarity between the police and members of the public. Such linguistic features were also used to show institutional power of the police officers and to establish the facts of the cases being reported.

South African Journal of African Languages 2012, 32(1): 85–90



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