I've noticed a particular behavior in the frequency of mentioning the person's name we're talking with.

I'm Italian, in my language we are used to calling each other by our first names during a conversation, simply to enforce a message or to confirm the communication channel between the talkers.

But, I've seen that English native speakers do this less often, if at all. Instead, Indian people tend to use the person's name a lot during a conversation, maybe even more so than Italians.

  • Can someone confirm this practice?
  • Is frequently referring to the addressee's first name in a conversation perceived as a sort of privacy invasion?
  • Have there been any studies on this phenomena?
    Or was this an isolated case due to the speakers I had experience with?
  • 2
    This would be very interesting, if true! Though since this is a cross-language analysis & comparison, I wonder if our friends at Linguistics would be in a better position to address it?
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 17, 2015 at 13:12
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    I believe you're right. I was reviewing a set of video interviews just a couple of days ago and was startled to hear the interviewer name his interlocutor with virtually every question. In that case, of course, the speaker was concerned to provide a variety of cut points for editors. In ordinary circumstances we may name the addressee at the beginning of an utterance, particularly if we need to distinguish which of two or more people is being addressed, but only rarely in the middle of an utterance or longer colloquy. Jun 17, 2015 at 13:30
  • 1
    I often wish other people would use names more often in conversation... sometimes other people in the conversation don't know them or have forgotten. ;_;
    – mfoy_
    Jun 17, 2015 at 13:44
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    @StoneyB: Interviewers/interviewees on radio/TV definitely tend to name the addressee more often than would be normal in most contexts. I expect the primary reason on the interviewer's side is simply that he needs to keep dropping in such references for the benefit of listeners/viewers who've only just tuned in. The interviewee might do it for various reasons (imply honesty thru intimacy, for example), but I imagine most of it is still for the benefit of a third-party audience rather than the actual co-conversant. Jun 17, 2015 at 13:46
  • 2
    Pier, not a privacy invasion, but like Kristina said unsettling: I'd interpret overuse of my name as the other person trying to ingratiate themselves to me because they really know my name like a friend (but a friend would obviously not do that).
    – Mitch
    Jun 17, 2015 at 16:46

1 Answer 1


Almost only before the conversation to get the other person's attention. This is evidenced by the fact that we have to teach business students to try to find ways to use someone's name a few times after meeting in order to be able to remember it. This is often tricky because, if done poorly, it is very easy to sound and feel unnatural doing it.

If someone frequently used my name to address me while talking to me it would be very uncomfortable and make me defensive; it would feel aggressive. It would be less so if there we were in a larger group discussion and names were needed to address questions, though.


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