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Unformatted text preview: American Speech , Vol. 79, No. 3, Fall 2004 Copyright © 2004 by the American Dialect Society 281 DUDE SCOTT F. KIESLING University of Pittsburgh abstract: The patterns of use for the address term dude are outlined, as are its functions and meanings in interaction. Explanations are provided for its rise in use, particularly among young men, in the early 1980s, and for its continued popularity since then. Dude is used mostly by young men to address other young men; however, its use has expanded so that it is now used as a general address term for a group (same or mixed gender), and by and to women. Dude is developing into a discourse marker that need not identify an addressee, and more generally encodes the speaker’s stance to his or her current addressee(s). Dude indexes a stance of cool solidarity, a stance which is especially valuable for young men as they navigate cultural Discourses of young masculinity, which simultaneously demand masculine solidarity, strict hetero- sexuality, and nonconformity. O lder adults, bafﬂed by the new forms of language that regularly appear in youth cultures, frequently characterize young people’s language as “in ar tic u late,” and then provide examples that illustrate the specific forms of linguistic mayhem performed by “young people nowadays.” For American teenagers, these examples usually include the discourse marker like , rising final intonation on declaratives , and the address term dude , which is cited as an example of the inarticulateness of young men in particular. As shown in the comic strip in figure 1, this stereotype views the use of dude as un con strained—a sign of inexpressiveness in which one word is used for any and all utterances. These kinds of stereotypes, however, are based on a fun da men tal misunderstanding of the functions and meanings of these figure 1 Use of dude in the “Zits” Comic Strip american speech 79.3 (2004) 282 linguistic forms. As analyses of like and rising intonation have shown (e.g., Guy et al. 1986, McLemore 1991; Andersen 2001; Siegel 2002), these forms are constrained in use and precisely expressive in meaning. Dude is no ex- cep tion. This article outlines the patterns of use for dude and its functions and meanings in interaction and provides some ex pla na tions for its rise in use, particularly among young men, in the early 1980s, and for its continued popularity since then. Indeed, the data presented here confirm that dude is an address term that is used mostly by young men to address other young men; however, its use has expanded so that it is now used as a general address term for a group (same or mixed gender) and by and to women. Dude is developing into a discourse marker that need not identify an addressee, and more generally encodes the speaker’s stance to his or her current addressee(s). The term is used mainly in situations in which a speaker takes a stance of solidarity or camaraderie, but crucially in a nonchalant, not-too-en thu si as tic man-...
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