Date: Wed, 17 Apr 1996 10:05:29 -0400


Subject: Re: On those Bobdolisms

Chris Brooks writes about Indonesian:

Third personisms are used in Indonesian to refer not only to to

oneself but one's conversational partner. If I am talking to Budhi,

an exchange like the following is possible:

Chris: "Chris mau pulang dulu, ya. Kalau Budhi mau ke mana?"

Chris wants to go home now. Where is Budhi going?

Getting off the subject somewhat, but this reminds me that in in olden days

(up to the 19th century) German lords and ladies would address their servants

or any lower class person in the 3rd person. So contrary to Indonesian where

it takes the ego out of a conversation, it was a way of injecting condescion

into the most routine exchages. "Where is He going?" meant, "where are you

going?" and the servant is constantly reminded he or she is dirt, --like not

even present in the room. The servants addressed them in the 2nd person

plural, and the lords and ladies could refer to themselves in the 1st person


It also reminds me of an episode of Seinfeld where Elaine is at the gym and

this guy comes up to her and says "Jimmy really likes you" and she thinks he

means this other guy she's been noticing. "Yeah, Jimmy's got a big crush on

you," he goes on to say, and it turns out he's a nut case who refers to

himself in the 3rd person. This goes back to the sports usage because Jimmy,

when he plays basketball, tends to describe what he's doing as if he were a

sportscaster "Jimmy gets the ball, he dribbles, he scores!" which people I

know also do when they're kidding around.

Dale Coye