We Shall Fight: Speaker-Exclusive We as a Grammatical Metaphor

Francesca Santulli


The first person plural pronoun cannot be considered as an expression of pluralization of the first. Its semantic boundaries are defined in context, and this inherent vagueness an be pragmatically exploited for communicative purposes. Beyond the frequently investigated opposition between (addressee-) inclusive vs exclusive forms, this paper explores non-prototypical uses of the first person plural pronoun, focusing on the conflicts that arise when it is used in contexts that semantically exclude the speaker. Speaker-exclusive forms can occur in different situations, ranging from interpersonal exchanges to public discourse. The paper investigates their different semantic implications, highlighting their common traits as well as their crucial peculiarities. Both the review of the literature and the analysis of actual examples bring forth the different values and functions of various speaker-exclusive occurrences of the first person plural. A more systematic categorization of the forms can be obtained adopting a metaphorical interpretation, which on the one hand emphasises their common denominator (i.e. speaker-exclusiveness) and, on the other, sheds light on their varying communicative potential.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/ijl.v12i4.16931

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International Journal of Linguistics  ISSN 1948-5425  Email: ijl@macrothink.org

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