Date: Tue, 16 Apr 1996 01:16:35 -0400


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

On Mon, 15 Apr 1996, Larry Horn taxed us with the Bob Dole construction:

My own hypotheses are

that it occurs primarily to mark a character-defining (rather than accidental

or "stage-level" property) of the individual in question [cf. the unlikelihood

of 'I'll have to take a break because Bob Dole needs to use the bathroom']

Looking at these through a narrative trope, I'm reminded of Charlotte

Linde's observation that personal narrative "creates a distinction

between the narrator and the protagonist of the narrative, and interposes

a distance between them." (Life Stories, Oxford UP, 1993: 105)

One thing that strikes me about most of these quotations is that the

narrator is referring to something not just character-defining but also

defensible or admirable that the protagonist has done or will do, so

Linde's idea of interposing distance (which makes a great deal of sense

in her data) doesn't seem useful for these speakers.

And yes, they're clearly producing information at the wrong level on

Prince's scale, so they're violating the Quantity Maxim and, if they're

cooperating, ;-) they're generating some implicature.

If the implicature is that the speaker is not in a position to use a

deictic pronoun, perhaps it's because he's being his own spokesman --

i.e., instead of the guy's press secretary or agent or somebody answering

questions about the guy, the guy is put(ting himself) in that role. In

that case, he *would* need to interpose distance between the speaker and

the spoken-about (narrator and protagonist). And if he's addressing the

press (and these are all cases of that, right?), then it would make sense

for the speaker to refer to the spoken-about with the name the audience is

accustomed to hearing used by a spokesman.

And if the guy's talking about something character-defining,

defensible, and/or admirable about himself, maybe being principal and

animator concurrently seems to throw the spotlight too much on him

(yeah, like any of these guys have problems with that). What I'm

thinking (fuzzily) is that maybe these cases are something like "Chris

and myself," which also violates binding. Although, of course, if BD the

spokesman is different from BD the principal, there's no binding

violation, right? Kinda like Lynne's split-personality theory. :-)



Joan C. Cook Imagination is

Department of Linguistics more important

Georgetown University than knowledge.

Washington, D.C., USA

cookj[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] --Albert Einstein