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So for instance, the sentence 'I myself am called James' is not different to 'I am called James', information wise.

As a comparative measure, take the sentences, which make use of reflexive pronouns 'I cooked eggs for myself' vs 'I cooked eggs for her'. Here, different information is conveyed, because whilst the object is the same, the subject is different.

But the sentence 'I herself am called James', 'I her am called James', or 'her myself am called Alice', does not make sense, because the object can't be two different things at once.

Note: I've just thought that 'he himself cooked eggs' could imply that only he (whoever he is) cooked eggs, and only him alone. However, I don't think it necessarily means so, where 'he alone cooked eggs', would. Any thoughts on this would be much appreciated.

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, GoldenGremlin, curiousdannii, user140086, Nathaniel Jun 16 '16 at 22:01

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    As the name implies, the intensive pronoun call attention to its antecedent as doing or being something unusual or at least to be remarked upon: The Executive Chef went to the line at breakfast service, and he himself cooked eggs. We're to infer that the Executive Chef ordinarily doesn't do something so mundane as to cook eggs for the breakfast crowd. – deadrat Jun 15 '16 at 17:38
  • @deadrat, I know, I just wanted to know whether intensive pronouns could ever convey new information. – user2901512 Jun 15 '16 at 17:53
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    @deadrat What new information is added by saying he himself cooked instead of just he cooked? – Barmar Jun 15 '16 at 21:48
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    @deadrat You seem to be saying that the new information is that the EC made the eggs. That new information is given whether or not you use the intensive pronoun, isn't it? What additional new information is conveyed by the intensive pronoun? – Barmar Jun 15 '16 at 23:17
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Consider:

  1. The executive chef entered. He cooked the eggs.
  2. The executive chef entered. He himself cooked the eggs.

(1) suggests nothing about whether or not the chef usually cooks the eggs. (2), however, suggests that the chef does not usually cook the eggs. That the chef does not usually cook the eggs is "new" information, that is, not is not present in (1).

This new information is an example of an implicature (not an entailment nor a presupposition). This is because implicatures are cancellable. To see that it's cancellable, consider:

  1. The executive chef entered. He himself cooked the eggs. In fact, he usually does.

A similar thing is happening with you example of "I myself cooked eggs". This can convey that you cooked eggs despite the fact that you usually don't, or it can convey that only you cooked eggs, or it can convey that you cooked eggs, but with an emphasis on the fact that you did it (perhaps defying expectations), or it can just convey the boring old proposition that you cooked eggs.

  • Thanks, but am quite lost, where could one learn about implicatures, entailments, and presuppositions? – user2901512 Jun 15 '16 at 22:55
  • Google 'em, or take a philosophy of language class. – GoldenGremlin Jun 15 '16 at 22:58
  • Why Philosophy? – user2901512 Jun 15 '16 at 23:20

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