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  #1  
Old 07-16-2008, 12:07 AM
scrambledeggs scrambledeggs is offline
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Why do people refer to themselves in the third-person?

I noticed that in recent years there had been more instances of people referring to themselves in the third person. A seinfeld episode made fun of it.

Is this a historically recent phenomenon? What caused it? I've never actually met someone who used such 3rd person conjuction, is/was it really a fad?

And if they are doing it, the scrambledeggs wants to know *WHY*?
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  #2  
Old 07-16-2008, 12:13 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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I think it's mostly something you hear from celebrities, especially athletes, and my theory is that they began to adopt it because that's the way their agents talk to them. The agents use their names like brand names and their clients start picking up on it.
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Old 07-16-2008, 12:37 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Koxinga remembers that Bob Dole was made fun of for using the third person in the 1996 election. If Koxinga remembers correctly, it was part of his old-fashioned fuddy duddy image.

Last edited by Koxinga; 07-16-2008 at 12:39 AM..
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  #4  
Old 07-16-2008, 12:43 AM
ToeJam ToeJam is offline
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Roosh first heard of this concept from the Bill Clinton v. Bob Dole election, and was amused by it, as it's rather simple humor and it's easy to do! However, Roosh never really takes it seriously, but its always amusing to hear someone using the conventions. Though Roosh has not noticed an increase in current day usage really (other than stand-up comedians using it to mock others/make a joke; and good ol' Bob Dole; who else out there is doing this really?).

It's always been on par with the "Royal We" in the Roosh's mind of odd turns of phrases that kinda sound nifty, but get old after a while.

*Edited to add* Dammit! Roosh was beaten to the punch!

Last edited by ToeJam; 07-16-2008 at 12:43 AM..
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  #5  
Old 07-16-2008, 01:22 AM
aldiboronti aldiboronti is online now
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This is a very old usage in English. Dickens and Shakespeare have several characters who make use of it, usually as a sign of pomposity, but not always. The old. (Major Joseph Bagstock in Dombey and Son always speaks thus, to hilarious effect ("Joe Bagstock never minces matters. The son of my old friend Bill ... 'Joey B., Sir, is not in general a calling man, but Mr Dombey's is not a common name.")
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Old 07-16-2008, 02:09 AM
Noel Prosequi Noel Prosequi is offline
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It is a way for those who seek attention (political candidates being high on the list of this class) to get name recognition. Modestly speaking about one's self in the first person does not imprint the name on the face in the listener's mind. It's a more pompous version of the comedian who reminds the audience of his name at the end of his segment, or the rap group that inserts its name into the lyrics of the song so the name gets associated with the song more strongly.
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Old 07-16-2008, 04:26 AM
CairoCarol CairoCarol is offline
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Some of the baby books we read when our son was an infant suggested some techniques for helping your child to understand language more quickly. They point out that "I" and "you" are hard for tiny children to learn, because the identity of "I" and "you" keeps changing. To get around that, they recommend referring to yourself in the third person - not "I want you to stop that!" but "Mommy wants you to stop that!"

Once you start doing this sort of thing, it is a bit hard to weed it out of your verbal repertoire. I don't think I ever use it in just ordinary talking (gawd, I hope not), but I do still engage in that sort of speech from time to time -- "the rule around here is, if CairoCarol says the paper has to be done by Wednesday, it has to be done by Wednesday, understood?" I have a feeling I wouldn't have developed this habit if not for my concerted attempts to raise a verbal child.

Given how many anxious overachieving parents are no doubt reading the same child-rearing advice that I did, and practicing it assiduously, it could be a factor, I suppose.
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Old 07-16-2008, 04:46 AM
Koxinga Koxinga is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CairoCarol
Some of the baby books we read when our son was an infant suggested some techniques for helping your child to understand language more quickly. They point out that "I" and "you" are hard for tiny children to learn, because the identity of "I" and "you" keeps changing. To get around that, they recommend referring to yourself in the third person - not "I want you to stop that!" but "Mommy wants you to stop that!"

Once you start doing this sort of thing, it is a bit hard to weed it out of your verbal repertoire. I don't think I ever use it in just ordinary talking (gawd, I hope not), but I do still engage in that sort of speech from time to time -- "the rule around here is, if CairoCarol says the paper has to be done by Wednesday, it has to be done by Wednesday, understood?" I have a feeling I wouldn't have developed this habit if not for my concerted attempts to raise a verbal child.
Funny thing is, I don't think my wife or I have ever deliberately talked to our daughter in the way you describe. But *she's* the one who constantly refers to herself in third person, often in an imperious tone of voice (to assert something is hers, or to declare she doesn't want to do something).
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Old 07-16-2008, 04:57 AM
Richard Pearse Richard Pearse is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koxinga
Funny thing is, I don't think my wife or I have ever deliberately talked to our daughter in the way you describe. But *she's* the one who constantly refers to herself in third person, often in an imperious tone of voice (to assert something is hers, or to declare she doesn't want to do something).
Well yes, because she probably generally only hears you referring to her by name. Emily do this, Emily don't do that, Emily would you like a drink, etc. She understands this much better than "would you like a drink?" This results in Emily saying things like "Emmy's turn!", "Emmy do!", "Emmy's toy!" and so on.

Why yes, I do have a 2 year old named Emily, how could you tell? She has recently learned to say "mine!", which is good in that it's a move away from "Emmy's toy" and hence the beginning of understanding that mine, yours, me, and you mean different people depending on whos talking, on the other hand that understanding comes hand in hand with a greater understanding of the concept of ownership.
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  #10  
Old 07-16-2008, 07:47 AM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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Bob Dole did it specifically so voters would remember his name. Product placement, if you will.
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  #11  
Old 07-16-2008, 11:37 AM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is offline
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Tom does this sometimes. It's a form of emphasis for playful situations: "Tom's here!" "Ooh, Tom doesn't like that idea!"

It's not something Tom would ever do seriously.
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:28 PM
Kat Kat is offline
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Kat does it to annoy people. Because she's like that.
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Old 07-16-2008, 07:47 PM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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I find it particularly annoying amongst pro atheletes. It is self-aggrandizement and self-worship gone badly awry.
Funnily enough, I enjoyed the Bud Light commercials with "Leon" that parodied this very same phenomenon.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BkIh1R5utY

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFuY1F5jHmY


Last edited by FoieGrasIsEvil; 07-16-2008 at 07:47 PM..
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  #14  
Old 07-17-2008, 01:03 AM
Jragon Jragon is offline
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In some other cultures it's a sign of a person's/character's innocence. Sometimes in anime the "good" characters (not as in good, righteous heroes, but the more cute "can't do any wrong" person) refer to themselves in third person. Granted from what I understand the way to signify third person is slightly different in Japanese, mainly because from what I've learned it it's a language with very few uses for pronouns. I'm not certain, but I heard that when Himura Kenshin in "Rorouni Kenshin" says things like "that it is" or "that I am" or "this one" at the end of his sentences in the English dub, it's a roughly translated version of the third person (though I also believe that his use of de gozaru and sessha, which are the Japanese versions of the translations above, are still odd, even for third person usage). So if you're watching foreign media it may be a sign of a specific personality.[sup]1[sup]

In America it's used for human product placement and the above mentioned parenting.

1 I only vaguely understand what I'm talking about here, feel free to correct this into the ground.

Last edited by Jragon; 07-17-2008 at 01:05 AM..
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  #15  
Old 07-17-2008, 04:02 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Little Nemo would never do something like that.
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Old 07-17-2008, 09:34 PM
Kat Kat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jragon
In Sometimes in anime the "good" characters (not as in good, righteous heroes, but the more cute "can't do any wrong" person) refer to themselves in third person.
Is that where the Elmo schtick comes from?
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  #17  
Old 07-17-2008, 11:30 PM
installLSC installLSC is offline
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I've never heard of anyone who isn't a celebrity or public personality referring to themselves in the third person. The first person I remember who used the third person was Reggie Jackson, in statements like "Reggie Jackson is the straw who stirs the drink".
One reason celebrities may use this is because in many ways their public persona is different than their real life character. In the excellent book "Dreaming Out Loud" by Bruce Feiler, he noted Garth Brooks started referring to his public persona in the third person. Brooks even wrote "Garth is not difficult to understand if you look at him as two different people" since his public and private persona had such different perspectives.
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  #18  
Old 07-18-2008, 02:49 PM
Can Handle the Truth Can Handle the Truth is offline
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I hear teachers doing it all the time.
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Old 07-18-2008, 02:58 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Clinton - Dole was 1996, wasn't it?

Seinfeld's "The Jimmy" episode aired March 16, 1995. They added quite a lot to the lexicon, I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't the source of widespread use. (Unless I've got my dates horribly mixed up.)
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  #20  
Old 07-18-2008, 03:17 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck
Bob Dole did it specifically so voters would remember his name. Product placement, if you will.
He should have just dressed as a pineapple at all public appearances and debates.

Personally, I occasionally like to refer to myself in second person (and everyone else in third person), just to totally confuse the hell out of people in a creepy, Gollum-esque, DID fashion. Of course, I've also been known to speak like Riddley Walker or gairaigo pidgin A Clockwork Orange, too, depending on my disposition and company.

Stranger
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