The curious case of me and my spouse always talking to each other in third person


If I needed a topic for master's thesis in Finnish language, I'd definitely look into affective use of third person when talking to second person

@Stoori Can you give an example? I think a similar think may exist in Turkish.

@cadadr Okay, so instead of saying

”sä oot niin sulonen”
(you are so cute)

you say

”hän on niin sulonen”
(they* are so cute)
[* singular]

@Stoori Thanks! Indeed, we have a parallel, but mostly in speaking to children (tho happens in adult "cutespeak" too).

@cadadr In addition to affective speech this 3rd person addressing is used when talking politely to someone who is hierarchically higher or lower than you (and consequentially not only politely but also with snark), although this polite use has vanished almost completely.

Would be interesting to read about the different contexts and implications related to these clearly two separate functions and if they are in any way related.

@cadadr Whereas when speaking to children, it's common to refer to the child in 2nd person but to yourself in 3rd person.

I actually hate this phenomenon and have never used it myself, but it is the standard way in Finnish.

@Stoori 3rd person as formal is also how formal language works in Italian (3SG-FEM). As for the latter thing, that's interesting, we've this in Turkish:

AnlatØ ablası, dinliyorum.
explain-2sg.imp elder.sister-3sg.gen listening-am-I.
"tell me, brother/sister, I'm listening"

This is an affective form where you refer to yourself in 3rd person using whatever kinship term the interlocutor would refer to you as. Kinship terms are regularly used 'metaphorically', so e.g. I being 27, a woman in her 40's could say the above to me, given we've an informal but non-romantic relationship. I guess it's a strict rule of acceptability that the utterer be older, so long as it's not used in a joke.

(btw feel free to tell me off if I'm boring the hell out of you with random linguistics nerdery you didn't ask for 😅)

@cadadr Hey, I *am* a linguist, why would random linguistics nerdery bore me out? :D

I mentioned this referring to yourself in 3rd when talking to a child and how I hate it. But it can also be used when an adult speaks to another adult, and then the meaning is always belittling.

This can be in good faith, like in ”let me show how it should be done”, and this is something where even I could use it.

But it can easily sound very creep, if there is even a hint of possible sexual implications.

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