Date: Fri, 7 Apr 1995 13:21:58 -0400


Subject: Re: Royal I

Larry Horn writes:

I'm pretty sure I saw the NBC Nightly News in question, and it wasn't Ford's

own use of "I" that was at issue, but his discussing (in his role of highly-

paid legal Simpsonian poobah) the use of "I" by one of the medical examiners

(Fung?) to describe the collection of material (blood) by an underling who was

evidently a novice. If I'm remembering correctly, it was the novitiate status

of this woman that led to a lively exchange in which Johnnie Cochran dismissed

her as a "rookie", the prosecution objected to that as a slur, and Judge Ito

reminded everyone that some rookies have been MVP's (as opposed to MOP's) in

their rookie year (thinking, perhaps, of Vida Blue or Fred Lynn, although he

wasn't asked for the exact precedents). I better stop before someone asks me

to move it all to the forensic.lx list. --Larry

P.S. Oh, I forgot. The point. This would not constitute a royal "I" so much

as an "I" of concealment, hoping to get away with a possible misjudgment of

allowing a rookie, or novice, underling to (mis?)handle evidence in the trial

of the century. The royal "I" per se is more like a scientist using a first

person singular in appropriating the work of junior colleagues and graduate

students, I'd think. (Apocryphal as such tales always are.)


Come on, as a non lawyer linguist, I can restate the issue as: Was Fung lying

in saying "I did X" when in fact it was a trainee under his supervision who

did X? All the speech act/implicature stuff that I remember (and I will

happily defer to Larry on this) suggests that this was something nefarious: If

having a trainee do this evidence collection is normal, why wasn't it

mentioned previously?

Alice Faber