Chapter 6. ‘You’ and ‘I’ in charity fundraising appeals

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The second person pronoun has become significantly more prevalent in UK charity fundraising discourse in the last five years. The effectiveness of ‘you’ in this context, to address and engage the reader and to elicit donations, is as yet under-researched. This chapter draws on theoretical developments and empirical research in literary narratology, linguistics and psycholinguistics to investigate the deictic functioning of ‘you’ and ‘I’ in fundraising mailshots. Deictic shift theory is used to explore the relative ease or difficulty with which the reader can conceptually adopt the position of the addressee in the light of Benveniste’s notion of the interdependence of ‘I’ and ‘you’. Herman’s categories of use of ‘you’ in fiction and Kacandes’ concept of the literary performative ‘you’ are drawn upon to explicate the nuances of the ontological issues involved. The chapter proposes a linguistic means by which the identificatory engagement effects of the ‘you’ in fundraising discourse may be better controlled and enhanced.


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