Some uses of third-person reference forms in speaker self-reference

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Speakers of English have available a set of terms dedicated to doing individual self-reference: 'I' and its grammatical variants, 'me', 'my', I mine" etc. Speaker selection of other than these dedicated terms may invite special attention for what has prompted their use. This article draws on field recordings of talk-in-interaction in which speakers use 'third-person' reference forms when speaking about themselves (e.g. when a woman says of her husband that 'he's married to an Englishwoman'). We show that third-person forms are recurrently used for representing the views of someone else (a recipient or a non-present person, an indeterminate member of a category of persons, or an organization). We also show how - by drawing on resources such as the distinction between recognitional and non-recognitional person reference forms, and on category bound attributes - the particular third-person term selected can be fitted to and thereby contribute to the action(s) a speaker is implementing through their turn at talk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)493-525
Number of pages33
JournalDiscourse Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007


  • conversation
  • conversation analysis
  • epistemics
  • first-person reference
  • footing
  • identity
  • HOME

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