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Chapter 5. ‘<i>Loquor, ergo sum’</i>

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Abstract

My title echoes Lyons (1982), who was himself much indebted to the work of Benveniste (1966). I shall first critique Benveniste&#8217;s ideas about the first person pronoun and <i>le sujet parlant. </i>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 &#60;I&#62; with non-human reference (prosopopoeia) and &#60;you&#62; with non-human reference (apostrophe). I shall argue that this anthropomorphic &#60;I&#62; is prevalent in many kinds of non-literary discourse today, centred on marketing and advertising: what I term the &#8220;Alice in Wonderland&#8221; principle, following the signs <i>Drink me</i> and <i>Eat me</i> found down Lewis Carroll&#8217;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 &#8220;person-ality&#8221;. It will be argued in the process that there are interesting implications for cultural and media studies, anthropology, eco-criticism and cognitive poetics.

References

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