The Politics of Person Reference

Third-person forms in English, German, and French

ORCID logoNaomi Truan | Leipzig University
ISBN 9789027208392 | EUR 95.00 | USD 143.00
ISBN 9789027260185 | EUR 95.00 | USD 143.00
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This book, the first systematic exploration of the third person in English, German, and French, takes a fresh look at person reference within the realm of political discourse. By focusing on the newly refined speech role of the target, attention is given to the continuity between second and third grammatical persons as a system. The role played by third-person forms in creating and maintaining interpersonal relationships in discourse has been surprisingly overlooked. Until now, third-person forms have overwhelmingly been considered as referring to the absent, i.e. to someone outside the communication situation, other than the speaker or the hearer: the “nonperson”. By broadening the scope and finally integrating the third person, we come to understand The Politics of Person Reference fully, and to see the strategic, argumentative, and dialogical nature of the act of referring to other discourse participants, understood as the act of creating new referents.

For her work on parliamentary corpora as discussed in this book, Naomi Truan has received the prestigious Open Science Research Data Award from the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation in 2022!

[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series, 320] 2021.  xvii, 279 pp.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“After reading this pioneering book you will never see third person reference in the same light. Naomi Truan does nothing less than rehabilitating the third person, bringing to light its ‘potential of address’ and its strategic pragmatic functions in politics. In this fascinating cross-linguistic exploration of parliamentary debates in the British House of Commons, the German Bundestag and the French Assemblée Nationale, she meticulously highlights how third-person forms intertwine mention and address, thereby enacting the speech role of the target. A crucial read for anyone interested in non-canonical ways of referring to discourse participants.”
“While first- and second-person references in political discourse have been studied intensively, third-person referential expressions have largely been ignored. With her data-rich and masterfully argued monograph, Naomi Truan fills this gap, showing that such third-person expressions are strategic devices referring to the hearer, not to actual third persons. The monograph is exemplary in its breadth (covering three major European languages), its exhaustively and transparently documented data and methodology and its bold and insightful argumentation. It sets standards in corpus-based political discourse analysis that will advance the field substantially.”
“The book addresses an intriguing and under-researched facet of the relational aspect of language: the use of third-person forms. The innovative aspect of the author’s approach is that she demonstrates through the analysis of numerous examples from three languages that third-person forms can have a variety of discourse functions beyond just referring to someone outside the actual interaction. While carefully making her claims and paying special attention to issues concerning politeness the author treats the third person as a part of the system of person reference rather than just a separate grammatical and discourse entity. The book is a must-read for researchers and graduate students who are interested in interpersonal pragmatics, political discourse and comparative linguistics.”
“The monograph is indeed well-researched, the exposition clear and its analyses in-depth. Without doubt, this invaluable resource contributes theoretically and empirically to the literature on pronouns and political discourse. Undoubtedly, this monograph constitutes an indispensable reference for scholars and researchers interested in the pragmatics of pronouns and corpus-based method in pragmatics, as well as comparative pragmatics.”
“Combining theoretical insights and methodological tools from corpus linguistics, conversation analysis, discourse studies, and French enunciative linguistics, this study is, all in all, a convincing and innovative piece of scholarly work [...]. The context-sensitive analyses of utterances from parliamentary dialogue are carried out meticulously, and the theoretical concepts applied fruitfully in the detailed inquiries. The study demonstrates the relevance of combining cross-linguistic data from a solid corpus set-up with a clear theoretical foundation. Another major asset of this monograph is its considerably eloquent and accessible style. It sets out in medias res with an everyday example of third-person reference, thereby arousing the curiosity on part of the reader, and continues in the same manner.”
Cited by

Cited by 4 other publications

Isosävi, Johanna, Heike Baldauf-Quilliatre, Christophe Gagne & Eero Voutilainen
Truan, Naomi
2021. Narratives of dialogue in parliamentary discourse. Journal of Language and Politics 20:4  pp. 563 ff. DOI logo
Truan, Naomi & Laurent Romary
2021. Building, Encoding, and Annotating a Corpus of Parliamentary Debates in TEI XML: A Cross-Linguistic Account. Journal of the Text Encoding Initiative :Issue 14 DOI logo
Weiss, Daniel
2023. Covid-19 vaccination policies in an autocratic context. In Remedies against the Pandemic [Discourse Approaches to Politics, Society and Culture, 102],  pp. 136 ff. DOI logo

This list is based on CrossRef data as of 29 may 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Communication Studies

Communication Studies

Main BIC Subject

CFG: Semantics, Pragmatics, Discourse Analysis

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009030: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Pragmatics
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  2020050377 | Marc record