If you’re Lance Armstrong, …

Sat Apr 17, 2004

A line from an article in the Lexington Herald-Leader: “If you’re Lance Armstrong, why, exactly, do you feel the need to go for Tour de France title No. 6?”

I cite this line here not because I am a fan – which I am – but because it’s a weird conditional set-up, which is actually quite common in sports reporting, I believe. I know that Hubie Brown – once a successful coach, then a basketball color guy, now back coaching the Memphis Grizzlies – is very fond of the construction: “Now, if you’re Phil Jackson, you want to preserve your final time-out …”.

I guess it’s a device to involve the audience in the thought processes of the subject of the discourse. It would be interesting to relate this to the ongoing research on counterpart relations in attitude contexts, going back to George Lakoff’s famous Brigitte Bardot sentence: “I dreamed I was Brigite Bardot and that I kissed me”. See for example two papers by Orin Percus and Uli Sauerland.