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Deferential Self-Reference in the Book of Samuel

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image of Vetus Testamentum

In the Hebrew Bible, the self-deferential phrase is used to save the addressee’s face in conversation. It can occupy virtually every position that the first-person pronouns can take. However, it does not occur consistently in a given speech. This article examines the use of self-deferential phrases in the book of Samuel, especially in the dialogues that involve David. It demonstrates that the occurrence of self-deferential phrases depends on the judgment and attitude of the speaker toward the situation of the conversation, not only on the status gap between the interlocutors. The self-deferential phrase in the book of Samuel, as an indicator of the speaker’s state of mind toward the addressee, serves as a dynamic signal that provides readers with an important clue about the narrator’s understanding of the situation.

Affiliations: 1: Seoul Women’s


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