Using Language to Express Emotion

One of the things I recently became aware of is that people tend to use a person’s full name when they want to express an extreme emotion or emphasize something. When parents are angry with their children, they often offer a stern rebuke using the child’s full name. Not only does tone of voice convey this anger, but so does the extra name. But why? Why do we use this method and why does it work to convey such seriousness (or shock)? Is it simply because it’s out of the ordinary for us to hear our full name (as opposed to only our first name or nickname) and so we immediately take a mental step back and pay attention? I’d love to know the origins of this and what other methods are used in various cultures and languages. I can’t wait to discover other differences that I’m currently unaware of.


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