LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Copyright © 2009 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
Volume 55, No.1 - Spring 2009
Editor of this issue: Gražina Slavėnas.
Intimacy, Familiarity and
Diminutives in Modern Lithuanian
Dr. Ineta Dabašinskienė is an associate professor of general linguistics at the Department of Regional Studies, Vytautas Magnus University, Kaunas. Her research interests are socio- and psycholinguistics and language use and variation. She is the author of a monograph and numerous articles.
Diminutives are a characteristic of child-directed speech (CDS) and diminutive suffixes are among the first morphemes that a child acquires and uses in his/her speech. There are only few studies about their use in adult interactions (adult-directed speech or ADS).
The highest frequency of diminutive use by adults occurs in child-directed speech, followed by lover- and pet-directed speech. Adults also use diminutives when talking to good friends, especially women talking to their female friends. The prevailing meaning of diminutive use is closely related to emotions such as love and kindness, especially when the addressee is a dear person in situations that have been defined as ‘not serious’ (Dressler & Merlini-Barbaresi 1994). However, there are other situations where diminutives in adult directed speech (ADS) may also occur with strangers, usually for pragmatic purposes, i.e. requests, offers, services, etc. This paper describes the way diminutives ‘behave’ in speech acts and in speech situations with different participants and applies conversational strategies of power and solidarity to show the dynamics of relationships between speakers.
In our everyday interactions with other people our thoughts expressed in words seem to flow naturally. However, what we say, and especially how we say things, is just one possibility out of many. Consciously or unconsciously we consider what and how to speak even before we start a conversation. Words, tone, speed of speech, intonation, gestures, body language, and other signals help us to interpret the message and react accordingly.
Interrelations between participants are an area that is studied by pragmatics. As stated by Jef Verschueren, “social role relationships as determined by social structure, including role conflicts and the notion of social power definable as the extent to which a participant can impose his/her wants on another participant.”1 Participants may exhibit many properties that play an important role in interactions, such as cognitive properties (biographies, experiences, previous knowledge, etc.), beliefs, attitudes, motives, emotions, and sympathy vs. antipathy.2
The way we talk or, in other words, our conversational style, shows what we mean when we say something or keep silent. Conversational interactions show the attitudes of participants, for example, whether they listen to each other, whether they show interest, support, friendliness, and solidarity, or whether they interrupt frequently, seek for domination, and ignore others.3 Politeness is another aspect of talk, as is seen from language philosopher H. P. Grice’s ‘conversational maxims’; however, these maxims or rules (Say as much as necessary and no more; tell the truth; be relevant; be clear) are interpreted individually; their application depends in great part on the speech situation, the speaker’s aims and attitudes towards the success of an interaction, and implementation of the ‘principle of cooperation.’
Words convey certain information, but the way we express those meanings (how loud and fast we speak, with what intonation) tells us what we think we are doing when we speak, that is, whether we are asking, offering, or joking; whether we feel solidarity or hostility; whether we want to get closer to a person or not. In other words, according to Deborah Tannen, “how we say what we say communicates social meanings.”4 Thus, some linguistic devices and strategies give us the tools to understand communication and our relationships.
Formal or informal interactions express the nature of our relationships: whether we are close or distant, and whether we seek to renegotiate the status in another conversational exchange. Power and solidarity means either controlling others or being friendly and, as such, refers to the different social status of participants. These two dichotomies are in interplay because they involve the needs for involvement and independence that constantly invoke issues of control. Even love implies the need to please the one we love, be it close friend, parent, or partner, so getting others to love us is a way of getting what we want, i.e., control. Thus, solidarity entails power. Superior status entails the right to control and to resist being controlled. Therefore, we may observe employers giving orders to employees, parents to children, teachers to students, and doctors or nurses to patients.
The situations, as well as concepts and strategies mentioned above, are related to the pragmatics of conversation. This paper will first describe the way diminutives ‘behave’ in different speech acts and in speech situations with different participants; and second, the conversational strategies of power and solidarity will be applied to show the dynamics of relations between speakers.
Diminutives in Modern Lithuanian
Cross-linguistically, the term ‘diminutive’ is interpreted as a category expressing smallness and endearment. The Lithuanian language is characterized by the productive formation of diminutives from any noun via one or several competing suffixes. The most frequent and productive suffixes of diminutive formation are the masculine forms, -elis/-ėlis, -(i)ukas, -utis, -ytis, -aitis, and their feminine counterparts in -ė: elė/-ėlė, -(i)ukė, -utė, -ytė, -aitė.
Noun diminutives provide the largest group of suffixed noun derivatives. Semantically this group consists of the names of everyday life, but it is not restricted to the names of physical entities; nouns denoting more abstract entities can also be diminutivized, e.g., laikas – laikelis: Aš visai neturiu laikelio. ‘time: I do not have any time-Dim at all,’ oras – orelis: Orelis šiandien nekoks. ‘weather: The weather-Dim today is not good.’
A variety of suffixes are employed in the formation of diminutives from different lexico-semantic groups (at least three or four different suffixes can be attached interchangeably to the same lemma, e.g., kepurė ‘cap’– kepur-ytė, kepur-aitė, kepur-ėlė, kepur-iukė, except for the group of abstract nouns, which are usually formed with the suffix -elis/-elė (-ėlis/-ėlė), e.g., nuotaika ‘mood’– nuotaik-ėlė, sveikata ‘health’– sveikat-ėlė, oras ‘weather’– or-elis, darbas ‘work’– darb-elis).
Diminutives consisting of two subsequent suffixes are quite common in modern Lithuanian, e.g., dal-el-yt-ė ‘particle-Dim-Dim,’ žmog-el-iuk-as ‘man-Dim-Dim,’ saul-ut-ėl-ė ‘sun-Dim-Dim.’ Double suffixation reinforces the pragmatic effectiveness or the meaning of smallness of the diminutive. Moreover, the number of sequent diminutive suffixes in one word may amount to six.5 The greatest quantity and variety of diminutives can be found in folklore, whereas in modern spoken and written Lithuanian their use is less frequent.
Hypocorisms or pet names, e.g., Rūta – Rūt-elė, Rūt-ytė; Saulius – Saul-iukas, Saul-ytis and special names used among family members, e.g., mama – mam-ytė, mam-utė ‘mother-Dim’; tėv-elis, tėv-ukas ‘father-Dim’ are very common as well. In hypocorisms, as well as in diminutives, all the productive suffixes are frequently used. Hypocorisms are more often formed from two-syllable nouns than from trisyllabic ones.
Noun diminutive formation is very productive, but it is less so with adjectives (balt-as – balt-utis ‘white’). Adjectives having negative connotations, such as durnas, kvailas ‘stupid,’ bjaurus ‘ugly,’ can be diminutivized as durniukas, kvailelis, bjaurukas etc., thus endearing or softening its negative force.
Ordinal numerals (penkt-as – penkt-ukas ‘the fifth,’ with a class shift to nouns), some adverbs (truputį – truput-ėlį ‘a little bit’) and verbs (šok-ti – šok-telėti ‘to jump’) can be diminutivized as well. Interjections, especially greetings, such as labas ‘hello’– lab-ukas, lab-utis; labanaktis ‘goodnight’ – labanakt-ukas; ačiū ‘thanks’ – ač-iukas; iki ‘see you’ – ik-iukas; OK – ok-iukas ‘OK,’ are often used in the colloquial speech of adults, especially of teenagers.
Lithuanian diminutives are not restricted to certain structural patterns: they can co-occur with imperative, subjunctive, and indicative constructions.
Diminutives in intimate exchanges
Diminutives are commonly viewed as a characteristic of child-directed speech (CDS), therefore, it stands to reason that due to the direct influence of CDS, diminutive suffixes are among the first morphemes that a child acquires and uses in his or her speech (children’s speech or CS); however, this has been very little studied in adult interactions (adult-directed speech or ADS).
The use of diminutives may depend on the speech situation: they mainly occur in child-directed speech or in adult talk about small children. Adults use diminutives when they talk to good friends, parents or grandparents. It is obvious that the situations just mentioned are not formal situations. On the contrary, they relate to friendly or intimate exchanges; and Dressler and Merlini refer to them as ‘nonserious’ situations. Therefore, the prevailing meaning of diminutives is closely related to emotions, love and kindness in particular, when the addressee in a speech act is a dear person, especially a small child.6
Pragmatic functions of diminutives in CDS and CS
Early research in CDS noted that diminutives or hypocorisms are not only more frequently used in CDS than in ADS, but also play a role in the development of the child’s grammar. For example, Rūķe-Draviņa reported that Latvian has a rich variety of diminutive suffixes in ADS, with these suffixes used even more commonly in CDS.7
Interesting results from experimental research on the acquisition of morphology, diminutives included, came from the morphologically poor English language. Berko, in her classic study in 1958, showed how children from the age of four until seven master English morphology and the derivation of diminutives. She observed that 50 percent of adults produced diminutives with several English suffixes (*wuglet, *wuggie, *wugette), but none of the children used a diminutive suffix; 52 percent of children formed analytical phrases like baby *wug and little *wug. One interesting case was observed when two children said *wig, employing sound symbolism where a narrow vowel stands for a small animal.8
Recent research into a number of languages (Austrian-German, Croatian, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Lithuanian, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish) has demonstrated that diminutives are especially frequent when talking to children.9
In language acquisition research, diminutives are investigated from different perspectives. It is proven that diminutives may facilitate conversational interaction and the acquisition of discourse strategies10 and answer the frequently discussed socio-pragmatic question of whether girls use diminutives more often than boys.11 Research of the languages where an extensive use of diminutives was noted induced some scholars to advance the hypothesis that the use of diminutives simplifies the acquisition of nominal declension.12
In order to understand the acquisition of diminutives in children’s language, it is important to analyze not only their derivation and semantics13 , but also their pragmatic functions. The use of diminutive suffixes in children’s language is mainly determined by pragmatics. As pointed out by Dressler and Merlini, diminutive suffixes are “firstly attributed to the nouns which describe the child, the parts of his body, or other objects which belong to that child.”14 The comparison of frequencies for diminutives and simplexes shows that with respect to diminutives, the most frequent lexico-semantic groups that appear in Lithuanian children’s language are ‘animals,’ ‘toys,’ ‘body parts’ and ‘food.’
Diminutives in children’s language situations often occur in orders, requests, prohibitions and questions and mitigate the strictness of the speech act. For example: valgyk žuvytę ‘eat (your) fish-Dim’; gerk pienelį ‘drink (your) milk-Dim’; atnešk mamytei tą žaisliuką ‘bring that toy-Dim to mother-Dim’ (in CDS); mama, statyk, statyk, mamyte ‘mother, build it, build it, mother-Dim’; užklok meškiuką ‘cover the teddy-bear-Dim’ (in CS). Quite often orders can be expressed indirectly, by using the verb form of the first person plural instead of the imperative, as in šiandien eisime į laukelį ‘Today we will go outside-Dim’; tuoj eisime miegučio ‘We will go to sleep-Dim soon’.
Hypocorisms are chiefly used to express warm feelings of love and kindness. Nevertheless, the basic forms of names in our data15 are not rare at all. Actually, the girl’s name used by her mother in the base form acquires a different pragmatic value, e.g., Vėl viską išpylei, oi tu, Rūta, Rūta. ‘You have spilt everything, oh, my, Rūta’; Monika, padėk į vietą. ‘Monika, put (this) in its place.’ In the situations cited above, mothers used the basic form of the name in order to discipline the girls, whereas in other situations, the mother mostly uses the hypocoristic form to emphasize their love and tender feelings. Thus, the basic form of the name used in such situations acquires an entirely different, i.e., negative pragmatic meaning. When mother calls her daughter Rūta (or Monika) she stresses the fact that the girl is doing something wrong.
While addressing her mother, the girl also uses hypocorisms frequently. Rūta’s utterances clearly demonstrate that they reflect a demand directed to her mother to perform something, which is accompanied by an imperative verb form. In addition to the demand, a new nuance of discontent emerges, indicated by the simplex form of the address. In the first utterance, the diminutive Mamyte, statom! ‘Mother-Dim, let’s build’ appears as the first item, but the simplex Mama! follows immediately. Moreover, the simplex is used with a specific intonation conveying impatience, irritation and discontent; all these emotions express negative connotations. Such difference in pragmatic meaning is evident only with respect to the two girls’ names, (Rūta or Monika) and mama ‘mother.’ It can be suggested then that in such cases hypocorisms appear as unmarked items, whereas simplexes are marked in terms of the pragmatic meanings they convey, such as seriousness, reproach, reprimand, or anger. This is a good example of pragmatic markedness reversal.
Another aspect of pragmatic use of diminutives is related to situations that are unpleasant for the child. The mother uses diminutives and hypocorisms when she doesn’t want to frighten the daughter, or when she wants to alleviate an unpleasant situation, e.g., eisim kirpti nagučius ‘We will go to clip (your) nails-Dim’; reikia gerti vaistukus ‘It is necessary to take medicine-Dim.’ What is meant by this usage is to convince the child that, for example, to cut her nails or to take her medicine is not something to be feared, and that such activities do not hurt. An appropriate use of diminutives reduces the feelings of fear (i.e., mitigation) and encourages the child to carry out some unpleasant activity (i.e., the intended perlocutionary sequel).
Pragmatic functions of diminutives in ADS
Lithuanian diminutives, however, are not restricted to interaction with children. They might have originated in such contexts and then expanded to topics related to adult-directed speech. The use of diminutives often depends on the speech situation: their highest frequency of occurrence is in child-directed speech followed by lover- and pet-directed speech. Adults also use diminutives when they talk to good friends, and this is especially true for women talking to their girl friends. Other situations where diminutives in adult-directed speech occur quite often, even when people do not know each other, are requests, offers, service, etc.
The corpus of spontaneous conversations gives the following results: 3.5 percent (ADS), 53 percent (CDS), 48 percent (CS).16 This supports the common impression that diminutives are used much more often in child-directed speech (CDS) and in children’s speech (CS) than in adult-directed speech (ADS).
Lover- and pet-directed speech. Child-directed speech situations can be metaphorically transferred into the language of love or to speech acts directed toward pets. Each can be explained as using the pragmatic feature ‘nonserious’ or the semantic feature ‘nonimportant.’ Diminutives usually convey an emotional aspect when used in speech acts involving lovers and pets. An emotional component is brought out when diminutives are used to express tenderness, compassion, pleasantness, and even soft irony. The language of love could be seen as CDS only in some contexts. Diminutives in such situations have a meaning of tenderness and intimacy; sometimes they convey specific erotic connotations. The main difference is the participants who are responsible for defining the speech situation. Usually only two persons (speaker and hearer) participate in a conversation and create intimate exchanges. Another person or a wider audience would disturb the nature of a lover-directed speech situation, the naturalness of emotions, unless they do so on purpose. It is worth noting that love letters represent lover-directed speech situations as well.17
In lover-directed speech the most frequently used forms are vocatives, i.e., the noun forms lovers call each other. Some examples are: Ingute, Lauryte, Linute (female names); beloved women are often called by the names of various animals, e.g., zuikeli ‘rabbit-Dim,’ paukšteli ‘bird-Dim,’ meškiuk ‘bear-Dim.’ In addition to vocatives, body parts, food and objects of belonging are frequently diminutivized. The use of several diminutives in one utterance is common for such situations, e.g., Mažule, lukterk dar minutėlę, tuoj bus kavytė ‘Small-Dim (one) wait-Dim a minute-Dim coffee-Dim will be soon’; Tuoj baigsiu darbelius ir grįšiu namučių ‘I will finish my work-Dim and will be back home-Dim soon’; Pasidarysim salotyčių, pakepsim mėsytės – ir bus puikumėlis. ‘We will prepare a salad-Dim, grill some meat-Dim and it will be great-Dim.’
Playfulness is a characteristic feature of the language of love; as regards the linguistic creativity of lovers, the phenomenon of the ‘childish behaviour of lovers’ is often observed. Therefore special words and names are created for specific purposes when the intimate memories and experiences of two persons are shared.
It is interesting to note that in the speech situation of lovers’ talk men use more diminutives than women. This could be explained in terms of the inequality of their status. Usually women are treated as weaker and smaller, therefore, they need support. Women are metaphorically equated to children -- both of them belong to a weaker group, and the stronger side always has a right to use diminutives. Thus, we can assume that, even in very intimate speech situations where two close adults interact, one of them gets an advantage and a superior status expressed in the linguistic form of diminutives.
In pet-directed speech usually small or young dogs and cats are treated like small children, thus they can also be addressed like small children. Interestingly, diminutives are used not only in the vocative form; other nouns referring mostly to body parts and food are diminutivized as well. Diminutives are used in different speech acts, such as greetings, e.g., sveikas, mažyli, ko toks snukelis nelinksmas? ‘Hi, little-one-Dim, why is your face-Dim so unhappy?’; orders: imk, palak pienelio ‘Have some milk-Dim’; palauk, pašukuosim tavo plaukelius ‘Wait, we will comb your hair-Dim’; varškytės pavalgyk ‘Eat (some) curd-Dim’; or questions: Ko nori, ko nori šunelis? ‘What does he want, what does the dog-Dim want?’; Nori kauliuko? ‘Do you want a bone-Dim?’
These examples demonstrate the pragmatic meaning of friendliness, closeness, and tenderness. Diminutives are used in requests and orders to mitigate the strictness of the speech act. Adults use diminutives not only in pet-directed speech but also in conversations about their pets. For example: kaip mano šuniukas mėgsta varškytę ‘My dog-Dim loves curd-Dim a lot’; jo mėgstamiausias žaisliukas – kamuoliukas ‘His favorite toy-Dim is a ball-Dim.’
Formality vs. familiarity in exchanges
We expect diminutives to be used in familiar, informal, and intimate interactions involving people who are close to each other. Such speech situations usually present a high degree of cooperativeness and a low degree of psychological distance. Familiarity, intimacy, and informality are always expressed in the language of love, and in child- and pet-directed speech. Formality, on the other hand, is present in the speech situation that is marked by an increased psychological distance and thus does not favor the use of diminutives.
As we have seen, diminutives are most frequently used in situations between close participants in familiar settings, usually at home. However, interactions that occur between strangers in formal institutional contexts, for example, in banks, hospitals and supermarkets, can also be marked by diminutives. The pragmatic meaning of ‘nonserious’ is the main condition for such speech situations. The use of diminutives here is most often a sign of reduced psychological distance and signals the playful character of the exchange.
Diminutives are more likely to accompany positive rather than negative emotions. Emotions that seem to disfavor the use of diminutives are fear, pain and anger. Thus, if diminutives are used in connection with these emotions, then they are used for the purpose of mitigation. Sympathy is another area that shows the use of diminutives. According to Dressler and Merlini, “sympathy is a direct, dyadic relation between speaker and referent, it represents the speaker’s affinity to, and positive attitude towards, persons or things.”18 Examples when sympathy is expressed in the contexts of fear and pain can be found in hospitals, where nurses and doctors may use such derivatives: Ar dar galvytę šiandien skauda? ‘Do you still have a headache-Dim?’; Neškite ten tą šlapimėlį ‘Take away that urine-Dim’; Tris tabletytes per dieną ‘Three pills-Dim per day’; Spaudimėlį pamatuosime ‘We will measure your blood-pressure-Dim’; Dabar išgersim vaistukus. ‘Now (we) will take (our) medicine-Dim’.
In cases like the one described, the speaker expresses support and shows that he or she has good feelings towards the hearer and is ready to help, to be together. More importantly, it is not only diminutives that help to express sympathy. The verb forms in the first person plural show this solidarity as well, i.e., ‘we’ will do things together. This linguistic strategy of using verb forms in the first person plural is quite common in situations where help, support, and understanding are needed.
Similar situations can be found in a bank where a client may need help, where he or she might feel fear or confusion. The speech acts of requests and questions involve the use of diminutives: pin koduką saugokite ‘Keep the pin-code-Dim safe’; tą sąskaitėlę galite tvarkyti ir elektroniniu būdu, per internetą ‘You can manage that account-Dim electronically, via the Internet’; kiek pervesti pinigėlių? ‘How much money-Dim do you need to transfer?’
The contexts where the diminutive form of the noun pinigėliai ‘money’ is used may yield different meanings. Quite often the semantic component of ‘smallness’ could be identified in the constructions with the adjective or adverb mažas/ mažai ‘small,’ as in turiu mažai pinigėlių ‘I have but little money-Dim,’ tų pinėgėlių tikrai mažoka ‘This is way too little money-Dim,’ ne tiek jau čia tų pinigėlių ‘not that (much) of this money-Dim.’ A great variety of pragmatic functions could be observed as well. Money is very often treated as something close to us, but not very important or meaningful. Therefore the diminutive suffix is used, as in the following examples, nebeturiu visai pinigėlių, gal gali paskolinti kokį lituką? ‘I don’t have any money-Dim, could you possibly lend me some litas-Dim?’ galima uždirbti ir pinigėlių ‘It is possible to earn (a bit of ) money-Dim.’ Diminutive forms are used both in private or institutional settings, and most often they serve the purposes of politeness.
Lithuanian diminutives seem to have moved into areas where they serve a wide variety of polite needs. Such derivates usually express politeness either by claiming common ground and showing solidarity towards the addressee or by showing affectionate concern for imposing on his or her freedom of action. By using a feature associated with children, adults signal interpersonal involvement and show modesty. In other words, the use of diminutives marks the interaction as positive and polite.19
The extensive use of diminutives related to the expression of politeness might be observed in interactions among customers and service providers, mainly in speech acts of offers and questions, e.g., duokite, pakabinsiu paltuką ‘Give it to me, I will hang up your coat-Dim,’ gal norėsite kavytės, desertuko? ‘Maybe you’d like some coffee-Dim, (a bit of) dessert-Dim?’ ar sąskaitėlę jau išrašyti? ‘Can I write the bill-Dim now?’ (in a restaurant/cafe); du bilietukus duokite, gal kur per viduriuką, kokioj trečioj eilutėj ‘Give (me) two tickets-Dim, somewhere in the middle-Dim, in the third row-Dim’ (at a cashier, buying tickets for a concert); kirpimuką pakeisiu, gerai? ‘I will change the cut-Dim, OK?’ (in a beauty salon); prie kasytės eikite ‘Go to the cashier-Dim’ (in a supermarket); gal lašišėlės karšto rūkymėlio? ‘Maybe some of our hot smoked salmon-Dim? (in a market).
Being polite is largely a matter of minimization of impositions while using proper mitigation devices. Special devices have to be used, especially in the speech acts of requests, as in the following examples: ar galėčiau gauti kavytės? ‘Could I have (some) coffee-Dim?’; būkite maloni, perduokite bilietėlį ‘Would you be so nice as to pass the ticket-Dim’; ‘duokit man dar vieną butelėlį alučio ‘Please give me one more bottle-Dim of beer-Dim’.
In a given speech situation the use of diminutives that involves the pragmatic feature ‘nonserious’ has the primary function of mitigating the request, of making the request more acceptable by decreasing the obligation of the addressee. By uttering a request, a speaker may obtain satisfaction of his needs, but may sound arrogant or obtrusive. By mitigating the request via a diminutive, on the other hand, the speaker may take care of the negative effect and still get what he or she needs. According to Sifianou, the everyday function of diminutives is not mainly to soften impositions, but to express the speaker’s wish to maintain or establish a common ground and solidarity with the addressee.20
Conversational signals and devices send metamessages about the involvement of the speakers. These messages reflect the nature of our interactions, and they express and negotiate our relationships with each other, including the relative power and solidarity entailed in those relationships. When we use diminutives in informal or familiar and intimate situations, we try to make our communication more friendly by trying to reduce the psychological distance. By removing barriers of social status, age or gender, we challenge hierarchies and become more equal. However, as discussed above, even when an advantageous position or a superior status of one of the speakers is established, very close and intimate exchanges can still be observed.
Different conversational strategies
and the use of diminutives enable
us to change the pragmatic values of asking questions, giving orders,
or making requests and offers. Diminutives are very often used for the
benefit, interest, or profit of the speaker. It is hard to observe
these features directly, but research shows that even the relationship
of love aimed at children or adults involves manipulation and control.
Berko, Jean. “The child’s learning English morphology.” Word, No. 14, 1958.
Berko Gleason, Jean. Perlmann, R. Y., Ely, R. and Evans, D. W. “The baby talk register: Parents’ use of diminutives.” In Handbook of Research in Language Development using CHILDES, J. L. Sokolov and C. E. Snow (eds). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1990.
Dressler, Wolfgang U. and Lavinia Merlini Barbaresi. Morphopragmatics. Diminutives and intensifiers in Italian, German, and other languages. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 1994.
King, Kimbell, and Melzi, Giuliana. “Intimacy, imitation and language learning: Spanish diminutives in mother-child conversation.” First Language, No. 24 (2), 2004.
Olmsted, H. “Diminutive morphology of Russian children: A simplified subset of nominal declension in language acquisition.” In Alexander Lipson: In memoriam. Columbus, Ohio: Slavica Publishers Inc., 1994.
Rūķe-Draviņa, Velta. Diminutive im Lettischen. Lund: Håkan Ohlsoons Boktryckeri, 1959.
Savickienė, Ineta. The Acquisition of Lithuanian Noun Morphology. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2003.
Savickienė, Ineta. “Morfopragmatika: deminutyvų vartojimas dabar-tinėje lietuvių kalboje.” Kalbotyra, No. 54 (1), 2005.
Savickienė, Ineta and Dressler, Wolfgang (eds.). The acquisition of diminutives: a cross-linguistic perspective. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2007.
Sifianou, Maria. “The use of diminutives in expressing politeness: Modern Greek versus English.” Journal of Pragmatics, No. 17, 1992.
Tannen, Deborah. That’s not what I meant! New York: Ballantines Books, 1986.
Verschueren, Jef. “Pragmatics as a theory of linguistic adaptation.” IPrA Working Document, 1987