Date: Mon, 15 Apr 1996 14:44:23 -0400


Subject: Re: the athlete/politician's third-person

Note too that some of these examples violate "Principle C" of Chomsky's

Binding Theory (names and other referring expressions can't be bound) and

others don't, but all seem to involve a condition Ellen Prince discusses in

"Assumed Familiarity" scale ("Towards a Taxonomy of Given-New Information", in

_Radical Pragmatics_, ed. by P. Cole, 1981) predicting that speakers will use

an "evoked" expression, in particular a 1st or 2d person pronoun, rather than a

name, if s/he is in a position to do so, and that the use of a name in these

circumstances will implicate (by the usual Gricean mechanism) that the speaker

was NOT in a position to use the deictic pronoun. ANyway, I'd be interested in

further references, discussion, history, etc.

so, is the gricean implication that the athlete/politician is having

an out-of-body experience or that they have a multiple personality

disorder? i guess what it's supposed to implicate is that the person

is a public person (responsible to the public, i guess), who

therefore doesn't possess him(her?)self solely enough to use the

first person. or does it implicate that, with regard to the

action/event described, the person named by name is a different

persona than the person doing the talking? in this case, is it used

to claim objectivity in describing one's own actions?

the interesting thing is how most of the examples include both 1st

and 3rd person self-reference:

"Six of us grew up living in a basement apartment. That was

Bob Dole's early life, and I'm proud of it..."

but is bob dole proud of it? or can't bob dole have feelings? bob

dole had an early life, which can be observed--but "i" has the

intrapsychic relation to the event. am i on to something here?

it does seem a rather macho style, though. maybe i'm missing some

background assumptions about these men's relationships to themselves.

well, now i won't sleep.