Illeism

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Illeism /ˈɪli.ɪzəm/ (from Latin ille meaning "he") is the act of referring to oneself in the third person instead of first person.

Illeism is sometimes used in literature as a stylistic device. In real life usage, illeism can reflect a number of different stylistic intentions or involuntary circumstances.

In literature[edit]

Early literature such as Julius Caesar's Commentarii de Bello Gallico or Xenophon's Anabasis, both ostensibly non-fictional accounts of wars led by their authors, used illeism to impart an air of objective impartiality to the account, which included justifications of the author's actions. In this way personal bias is presented, albeit dishonestly, as objectivity.

Illeism can also be used in literature to provide a twist, wherein the identity of the narrator as also being the main character is hidden from the reader until later in the story (e.g. one Arsène Lupin story where the narrator is Arsène Lupin but hides his own identity); the use of third person implies external observation. A similar use is when the author injects himself into his own third-person-narrative story as a character, such as Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation, Douglas Coupland in JPod, and commonly done by Clive Cussler in his novels, beginning with Dragon. (There are also novels in which illeism may have been committed, but are not explicit, such the Traveller in H. G. Wells' The Time Machine, the identity of whom is often presumed to be Wells himself, as portrayed in the 1979 film Time After Time.)

It can also be used as a device to illustrate the feeling of "being outside one's body and watching things happen", a psychological disconnect resulting from dissonance either from trauma such as childhood physical or sexual abuse, or from psychotic episodes of actions that can't be reconciled with the individual's own self-image.

The same kind of objective distance can be employed for other purposes. Theologian Richard B. Hays writes an essay where he challenges earlier findings that he disagrees with. These were the findings of one Richard B. Hays, and the newer essay treats the earlier work and earlier author at arms' length.[1]

A common device in science fiction is for robots, computers, and other artificial life to refer to themselves in the third person, e.g. "This unit is malfunctioning" or "Number Five is alive" (famously said by Johnny Five in Short Circuit), to suggest that these creatures are not truly self-aware, or else that they separate their consciousness from their physical form.

Illeism is also a device used to show idiocy, such as the character Mongo in Blazing Saddles, e.g. "Mongo like candy" and "Mongo only pawn in game of life." (Note also the lack of articles and verb inflection in both sentences.)

In everyday speech[edit]

Illeism in everyday speech can have a variety of intentions depending on context. One common usage is to impart humility, a common practice in feudal societies and other societies where honorifics are important to observe ("Your servant awaits your orders"), as well as in masterslave relationships ("This slave needs to be punished"). Recruits in the military, mostly United States Marine Corps recruits, are also often made to refer to themselves in the third-person, such as "the recruit," in order to reduce the sense of individuality and enforce the idea of the group being more important than the self.[citation needed] The use of illeism in this context imparts a sense of lack of self, implying a diminished importance of the speaker in relation to the addressee or to a larger whole.

Conversely, in different contexts, illeism can be used to reinforce self-promotion, as used to sometimes comic effect by Bob Dole throughout his political career.[2] This was particularly made notable during the United States presidential election, 1996 and lampooned broadly in popular media for years afterwards.

Similarly illeism is used with an air of grandeur, to give the speaker lofty airs. Idiosyncratic and conceited people are known to either use or are lampooned as using illeism to puff themselves up or illustrate their egoism. The artist Salvador Dalí used illeism throughout his interview with 60 Minutes's Mike Wallace, punctuating it with "Dalí is immortal and will not die," although this may have been a reference to the legacy of his art rather than his actual self. The wrestler The Rock was notorious for this, mainly to enhance his persona to a superhuman level. Deepanjana Pal of Firstpost noted that speaking in the third person "is a classic technique used by generations of Bollywood scriptwriters to establish a character’s aristocracy, power and gravitas."[3]

An increasingly common use of illeism in common speech is as sarcasm, used when a person is being spoken about by other people present as if he weren't there. For example, Alice and Bob having a conversation about Carol: "Did you hear about Carol?" to which Carol interrupts with "Carol can hear you, you know."

Young children in Japan commonly refer to themselves by their own name (a habit probably picked from their elders who would normally refer to them by name. This is due to the normal Japanese way of speaking, where referring to another in the third person is considered more polite than using the Japanese words for "you", like Omae[4]) though as the children grow older they normally switch over to using first person references. Japanese Idols also may refer to themselves in the third person so to give off the feeling of childlike cuteness.

Notable uses[edit]

Real people[edit]

Politics[edit]

Sports[edit]

Entertainment[edit]

  • Flavor Flav[24]
  • Lila Morillo, Venezuelan singer, actress, and media personality, very well known in her country for her permanent habit of speaking in third person.[25]
  • Mr. T, became one of his trademarks in the 1980s[26]

Other[edit]

  • Ma Yog Laxmi, Osho's secretary, referred to herself in the third person for spiritual reasons.[27]
  • Salvador Dalí in his 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace on April 19, 1958.[28]
  • Norman Mailer's non-fiction work, The Fight, refers to the author in the third person throughout The Fight, explaining why he has chosen to do so at the beginning of the book.[29]
  • Felipe Alviar-Baquero, a candidate on the 2014 series of The Apprentice. [30]

Fictional characters[edit]

Literature[edit]


Television live-action[edit]

Film[edit]


Comics[edit]

Manga and anime[edit]


Cartoons[edit]

Video games[edit]

  • Crazy Barks from Drawn to Life and its DS sequel, Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter, refers to himself in third person.[50] In the second game, a similar character called Crazy Diggs also shares this habit.
  • In the video game series Mass Effect, the alien race hanar likes to say "This one" whenever they are referring to themselves.


See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Richard B. Hays, “‘Here We Have No Lasting City’: New Covenantalism in Hebrews” in Richard J. Bauckham et al (eds.), The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009), 151–173, esp. 151–152, 167.
  2. ^ "When the president is ready to deploy, Bob Dole is ready to lead the fight on the Senate Floor". Bob Dole speaking about SDI[[{{subst:DATE}}|{{subst:DATE}}]] [disambiguation needed] at the NCPAC convention, 1987.
  3. ^ "Rahul Gandhi, blurring lines between filmi and real politicians". Firstpost. 2014-01-28. Retrieved 2014-08-06. 
  4. ^ More explanation given in Japanese pronouns
  5. ^ Alexander, Catherine M. S., ed. (2003). The Cambridge Shakespeare Library: Shakespeare's times, texts, and stages. Cambridge University Press. p. 101. ISBN 9780521808002. 
  6. ^ See the Wikisource of the book: s:The Education of Henry Adams
  7. ^ Glass, Loren Daniel (2004). Authors Inc: Literary Celebrity in the Modern United States, 1880-1980. NYU Press. p. 29. ISBN 9780814731604. 
  8. ^ "France: Third Person Singular". Time Magazine. 1970-10-19. Retrieved 2009-01-22. (subscription required)
  9. ^ Harris, Scott (1996-03-10). "Bob Dole Needs to Put the 'I' in Identity". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  10. ^ Alberts, Sheldon (9 November 2011), There’s no ‘you’ in Herman Cain, The National Post 
  11. ^ a b Veja Magazine - November 4, 1998
  12. ^ "Hang me if I have committed any crime, but no apology, Narendra Modi says - The Times of India". Timesofindia.indiatimes.com. 2014-04-16. Retrieved 2014-08-06. 
  13. ^ Praveen Swami (2014-01-27). "Rahul’s ‘interview of the year’ will have disappointed supporters". The Hindu. Retrieved 2014-08-06. 
  14. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (2003-06-30). "And God created Pele". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-01-22. 
  15. ^ Fink, Jesse (2011-11-13). "Pelé’s mouth should get a straight red". The Sunday Guardian. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  16. ^ Taibbi, Matt (2010-03-02). "A Field Guide to Sports Egos". Men's Journal. Retrieved 2012-12-06. They actually have a word for what Rickey Henderson is: illeist. 
  17. ^ "Doug Robinson: Karl Malone is one of a kind". Deseret News. 2010-08-10. Retrieved 2012-12-06. Maybe Malone didn't even know he was the one who was saying those things, because he tended to talk about himself as another being, in third person. Or maybe he was just schizophrenic, whatever. 
  18. ^ Hruby, Patrick (2012-08-18). "Lebron James definitely has Dan Gilbert all wrong". ESPN Page 2. ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  19. ^ Nordquist, Richard (2012-09-24). "A Few More Oddities: Illeism, Semantic Satiation, and Garden-Path Sentences". About.com guide. Retrieved 2012-12-07. Here, for instance, is how pro basketball player LeBron James justified his decision to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat: I wanted to do what was best for LeBron James and what LeBron James was going to do to make him happy. 
  20. ^ Nottingham Evening Post January 1st 2009
  21. ^ Marchman, Tim; Fischer-Baum, Reuben (September 25, 2013). "Who Is The Most Pompous Sports Pundit? A Scientific Investigation". Deadspin. Pronouns within quotes weren't counted unless the author was quoting himself, and we also counted when Greggg Easterbrook used "TMQ" or "your columnist" in the obvious place of a pronoun. ("TMQ's been on the record as saying ...") 
  22. ^ Shefter, Adam (2011-02-27). "Sources: Cam Newton thrown for loop". ESPN.com. His comment drew such a reaction because some say his swagger teeters on the edge of pure arrogance. In roughly 12 minutes at the podium, he referred to himself in the third person three times. When asked if some mistake his confidence for cockiness, he said: "I'm not sure, but I'm a confident person, and it was instilled in myself at an early age to believe in myself." 
  23. ^ "Patrice Evra vows to fight for his place". 'I will keep doing fighting too. It is too easy for people to say that now we have bought another left-back. Patrice Evra has always fought for his place. 
  24. ^ Wiltz, Teresa (2006-11-02). "Love Him, Or Leave Him?". Washington Post. Retrieved 2012-12-06. They all purport to be in love with Flav, a man who refers to himself in the third person and whose idea of fine dining is a dash to Red Lobster. 
  25. ^ "Queremos tanto a Lila". Revistamarcapasos.com. 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  26. ^ "Mr. T Reveals Why He Pities Fools". Retrieved 12 March 2013.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  27. ^ "Osho World Online Magazine :: February 2013". Oshoworld.com. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  28. ^ "Salvador Dali - The Mike Wallace interview - transcript". Harry Ransom Center. University of Texas at Austin. 1958-04-19 (interview date). Retrieved 2012-12-06.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  29. ^ Norman Mailer (1997-09-30). The Fight. Vintage. ISBN 0-375-70038-2. 
  30. ^ http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/reviews/the-apprentice-bbc1-tv-review-9793186.html.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. ^ When the Changewinds Blow. 
  32. ^ De Sousa Correa, Delia (2000). The Nineteenth-century Novel: Realisms. Psychology Press. p. 162. 
  33. ^ Fowler, Matt (2009-07-02). "Line-O-Rama: The Rock Says". IGN. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  34. ^ "Why does Elmo refer to himself in the third person? Won't this teach kids improper English?". Frequently Asked Questions. Sesame Workshop. 
  35. ^ Kettle, James (2011-05-28). "The best of Seinfeld". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-12-07. 
  36. ^ Sullivan, Jonathan (2010-01-22). "DVD Review: Becker – The Third Season". Blogcritics. 
  37. ^ Stevens, Christopher (2013-06-09). "We’re lucky David Suchet loves Poirot more than Agatha ever did". Daily Mail. Poirot was as riotously egotistical as ever. Suchet’s genius is that he can deliver everything Christie found so exasperating, without becoming a caricature — he minces, he trots, he fusses, he talks endlessly of himself in the third person. 
  38. ^ Alston, Joshua (2010-10-14). "'Eastbound & Down': The Ugliest American". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  39. ^ Wightman, Catriona (2011-09-27). "'Hart of Dixie': First impressions - TV Blog". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  40. ^ Hinckley, David (2009-04-07). "ABC's 'The Unusuals' odd squad mixes drama and humor". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  41. ^ "Auf Wiedersehen, Pet". TV Cream. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  42. ^ Gilmore, Dave (October 22, 2012). "'Boardwalk Empire' recap, 'Ging Gang Goolie'". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  43. ^ Simpson, Craig (June 17, 2009). "Summer of '84—Waxing on Nostalgia: The Karate Kid". Slant Magazine. Miyagi is a trickier case: at first it looks like Avildsen overplays the man's exoticness (cue that pan flute!), enforced by Kamen's questionable emphasis on the character's me-no-likey phonetic third-person English. ("Miyagi this, Miyagi that...") 
  44. ^ "Quotes for Magua (Character)". IMDB. 2014-08-01. When the Grey Hair is dead, Magua will eat his heart. Before he dies, Magua will put his children under the knife, so the Grey Hair will know his seed is wiped out forever. 
  45. ^ "Cars 2 - An interview with director John Lasseter". Sound and Picture Online. 2011-06-20. He’s not just any formula car. He’s the star from Italy, Francesco Bernoulli. He is so full of himself—he’s an open-wheel car and in the car world, an open-wheel car is like those guys who barely button their shirts. He talks about himself in the third person. Voicing Francesco Bernoulli is John Turturro and he hit it out of the park. It’s one of the most entertaining characters we’ve ever created. 
  46. ^ Bowers, J. (2007-09-27). "Nodame Cantabile, Vols. 6-10 (Del Rey)". playbackstl.com. Retrieved 2012-12-19. 
  47. ^ "A Cracked Concerto". Kanon (2006-2007). Episode 14. - details back story of Sayuri Kurata from Kanon
  48. ^ Hanley, Andy (2012-03-15). "Manga Review: Highschool of the Dead Vol. 5". UK Anime Network. Retrieved 2012-12-06. At the forefront of this is a young traffic cop with a penchant for referring to herself in the third-person named Asami Nakaoka, who tries to take control of the situation in the absence of her partner who has gone back to base to seek help. 
  49. ^ Moody, Allen (2013-11-05). "Haganai - Review". THEM Anime Reviews. Like Tim, I didn't like most of the other characters, especially Rika, whose tics (speaking of herself in the third person, and imagining sexual situations in the damnedest places- for example, in mecha manga) kept making me shout "Make it STOP!!!!" 
  50. ^ 5th Cell. "Drawn to Life". Nintendo DS. THQ. Crazy Barks: BARKSISGLADTHESHADOWISGONE!