Brown and Gilman (1960) introduced the notion that the use of certain pronouns (epitomized as T and V) can be an expression of power and/or solidarity. Rubin (1972) extended the analogy of T and V pronouns to the use of L and H varieties in Paraguay, a supposedly `bilingual' linguistic culture in which the two languages, Spanish and Guaraní, are in an extended diglossic relationship. In many of the linguistic cultures discussed here, the use (or misuse) of L and H varieties also can raise some of these same issues. Certainly the use of L where H is expected (or vice versa), constitutes a violation of communicative competence rules. If an outsider speaks Hochdeutsch in Alemannic Switzerland, addresses a hotel clerk in Hindi in Madras, or begins a conversation with a well-dressed stranger in Asunción in Guaraní, these are violations of social norms that stem from an inadequate understanding of the linguistic culture.
Brown and Gilman (1960) established the notion that use of T pronouns (the familiar, non-respect form) can have several social meanings. Reciprocal use of T by equals expresses solidarity, but between non-equals the giver of T is putting him/herself in a position of power, and the receiver is expected to respond with V. Similarly, reciprocal V usage implies mutual respect and social distance; any non-reciprocal use of these pronouns is an expression of a differential of power.
As Rubin demonstrated, in diglossic situations the use of H or L varieties in a given social exchange (as distinguished from societal patterned usage as a whole) may be seen as the same kind of T/V situation. The use of L may be an expression of solidarity and may not be offered to speakers whose social position is superior or distant. Similarly H may be the only variety appropriate in a given situation because the use of L would imply a solidarity that is only reserved for members of a particular in-group. The use of Black English by white speakers of American English in conversations with African-Americans would probably be considered insulting unless individual allowances had already been negotiated. The use of L-variety Tamil by non-Indians is considered inappropriate by many educated Tamilians, who may respond in H-variety Tamil or in English unless the use of L-variety has already been negotiated (with explanations about the goals of the speaker and disclaimers about intended slurs and put-downs.) The use of H-variety German in Alemannic Switzerland conversely may be seen as a power-trip designed to put the Swiss speaker at a disadvantage. The fact that the Hochdeutsch speaker may have no alternative L to use may be irrelevant; it certainly explains the desire to switch to `neutral' English or French. In Luxembourg, however, L-variety and its use are expressions of Lëtzebuergesch nationality and ethnic solidarity, so while Luxembourg nationals expect L from all Luxembourgers, they switch readily to French or Hochdeutsch or English with foreigners, with no expectation that they will or should be able to speak L.