Chapter 11. Referring to oneself in the third person

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This chapter examines the increasingly popular practice in text-based computer-mediated communication (CMC) of users referring to themselves in the third person, e.g. *runs to the kitchen*. Originating in game environments, the zero subject construction has in recent years spread to other modes of CMC such as discussion forums, microblogging and texting. In these contexts, users take the trouble of typing in asterisks and other signals mimicking the screen view of early chat. Based on data from recreational discussion board threads and microblogging, the chapter focuses on the emergent grammar of the typographically marked, self-referential third-person construction and its pragmatic constraints. Special attention is paid to the variation between pronominal forms and other means of referring to oneself. It is argued that the construction is grammatically and pragmatically innovative in English.


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