This study examines the use of address terms in different situations in the city of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the way these terms are used in relation to the social context. The data used in this study was collected through questionnaires, focus groups, the observation of natural data, and the analysis of a local Saudi TV show. Some of the address variations that this study investigates include: gender-based differences, age-based differences and social status-based differences. The use of address terms in different settings (including the home environment, the workplace and the neighbourhood) has also been examined in an effort to produce a comprehensive map of the address system in the city of Riyadh.
In this study, it is argued that five different factors influence the use and choice of address terms. These factors are the age and gender of both the speaker and the addressee, the social status of the addressee, social distance (including familiarity) and the address situation (the circumstances surrounding the address instance). The main focus of this study, however, is on the age, gender and social status factors because of the culture-specific nature of these factors in Riyadh society.
In every society, address practices and categories usually mirror aspects of social organization and cultural priorities. Thus, this study helps in understanding the social structure of Saudi Society and the way in which its members interact with each other. This study also contributes to the process of creating a clearer picture of the sociolinguistic situation in Saudi Arabia and can be the basis for future studies in pragmatics and in social organization on that region.