Vocatives and Expletives

Vocatives and expletives, such as What do you want, darling and God, that’s terrific are “features of dialogue, especially casual conversation where they often occur one after the other and together reinforce the ‘you-and-me’ dimension of the meaning” (H & M, p.134). These two, outside the Mood and Residue structure, are often overlooked in EFL classes and are one reason why many EFL dialogues can seem somewhat flat and impersonal. One easy activity I use in class to reinforce their importance is just to get students using each other’s names when doing any kind of drill. Instead of just What time do you get up? the students should instead try to use:

– What time do you get up, Takashi?

– At about 6 o’clock.

 – Wow, that’s early!

– I know! How about you, Junko?