Date: Tue, 16 Apr 1996 09:59:48 -0700


Subject: Re: On those Bobdolisms

Wait, Bruce, don't feel dirty and wretched just yet! I think you've hit

on something more fundamental.

I wonder if "third-person-ese" may actually pre-date, in just the

context Bruce cites, the current fashion for its use by celebreties.

I remember both of my maternal grandparents using it with my sister and

me when we were little, and my mother (who didn't use it herself) quoting

my grandfather using it with her when SHE was little. The following

exchange, for example, was an attempt of his to ease her dissatisfaction

about the shape of her chin:

He: "Does Daddy's chin look all right?"

She: "Yes." (Thinking privately that in fact it shared the very

qualities she was most dissatisfied with.)

He: "Well, yours is just like his."

I don't remember my paternal grandmother (from Iowa) ever "using this

usage." My (maternal) grandfather was raised in Texas, my grandmother in

Indian Territory/Oklahoma, and they both lived their adult lives in

Oklahoma City after a few years in "Hewston."

Of course this still doesn't answer the question of how the usage

originated and why, or how it has gotten transferred from the

intimate-family sphere to an arrogant/celebrity/public one.

Peter McGraw

Linfield College

McMinnville, OR

On Tue, 16 Apr 1996, Bruce Gelder wrote:


I don't know whether this would fit in with your examples or not, but I

caught myself last night telling my kids something along the lines of

"No, Dad WOULDN'T like you to do that...." When I realized what I'd said,

(and especially the comments that have been made here about the types of

people who talk in 3rd-person-ese, I felt dirty and wretched, as if I

had been transformed into the Wicked Witch of the West or (worse) a

Presidential candidate.

I hereby solemnly vow never to use the construction again...

Bruce Gelder