Third-person pronoun referring to a person present

Conversation, Nyilasy Sándor.How to be respectful?

Once upon a time… well, thrice, I had this peculiar experience.

I am in a group of people and, as the conversation goes on, my fiancé says something like: ‘He is such a cunning linguist,’ to refer to me. Then I raise my eyebrows: how could that be? I am here, and yet you refer to me as he, instead of my name. Isn’t third-person pronoun used when a person is not present, not here? What is that supposed to mean?

Then I start getting upset, considering it rude, yet he explains that it is not offensive at all, which seems to be contradictory to my experience and a few sources I found on the internet. That seems to depend heavily on a person.

Moral of the story: avoid using third-person pronouns when referring to a person who is present. However, do not get infuriated when someone else uses it.


Most volunteering is a waste of time for anyone except the volunteer

The Story's Story

Volunteering is primarily driven by the need of the volunteer to feel good about themselves, not to do the most good; the way to really do the most good is to know how to do something valuable, like make a computer do what a person wants, or building things. Not that many people can or choose to learn how to do something really valuable, but many people can rehab trails or serve meals to the homeless.

Nonprofit and public agencies know this and many don’t really want volunteers, though they also can’t really turn volunteers away for PR reasons.* Nonprofit and public agencies want cash, which is fungible and can then be spent hiring professionals who don’t consume a lot of time and energy. Programmers know that the smallest number of programmers possible should work on a given project, because each additional programmer increases the communication overhead of the…

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