Article published in:The Pragmatics of Personal Pronouns
Edited by Laure Gardelle and Sandrine Sorlin
[Studies in Language Companion Series 171] 2015
► pp. 95–104
Chapter 5. ‘Loquor, ergo sum’
‘I’ and animateness re-considered
My title echoes Lyons (1982), who was himself much indebted to the work of Benveniste (1966). I shall first critique Benveniste’s ideas about the first person pronoun and le sujet parlant. For my purposes here I want to argue for the primacy of the rhetorical situation of discourse, rather than the canonical, which figures prominently in poetry and fantasy; and so highlight <I> with non-human reference (prosopopoeia) and <you> with non-human reference (apostrophe). I shall argue that this anthropomorphic <I> is prevalent in many kinds of non-literary discourse today, centred on marketing and advertising: what I term the “Alice in Wonderland” principle, following the signs Drink me and Eat me found down Lewis Carroll’s rabbit-hole. A detailed linguistic analysis of many examples of such signs and notices will lead to a critique of notions of subjectivity and empathy, and of focalisation and “person-ality”. It will be argued in the process that there are interesting implications for cultural and media studies, anthropology, eco-criticism and cognitive poetics.
Published online: 10 November 2015
Cited by 4 other publications
Gardelle, Laure & Sandrine Sorlin
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Fauconnier, Gilles & Turner, Mark