Date: Mon, 15 Apr 1996 14:44:23 -0400
From: "M. Lynne Murphy" 104LYN[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MUSE.ARTS.WITS.AC.ZA
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.