Why does Sesame Street Character Elmo Speak in Third Person?


If you were living in the same house with Sesame Street character Elmo, you might have a conversation like this:

- Hey, Elmo, are you in the kitchen?
- Elmo is in the kitchen.
- Oh my God, who are you?
- He's Elmo.
- ?!.&! 😱


Many of you have noticed the strangeness of Elmo's speech. He does not use the words "I, Me" when he speaks. This is interesting because when Elmo talks about himself, we feel like he's talking about someone else. Imagine you stumble upon him somewhere and ask him this question that we're looking for the answer to. "Hey Elmo, man why are you talking in third person all the time?" The first word of the answer you get will probably start like this: "Elmo…" So let's go on a magnificent journey with you and try to find answers for ourselves.


Description of Sesame Workshop for Elmo's Speaking Style


The official answer on this subject was given by Sesame Workshop:
““Elmo mimics the behavior of many preschoolers. Like 3-year-olds, he doesn’t always have the skills or knowledge to speak proper English. Cast members and many of the other Muppets, however, do demonstrate proper usage of the English language.” [1]

I don't know if this answer given by Sesame Workshop satisfies you, but it is definitely not enough for me. Because the preschoolers around me don't talk that way. I think the Sesame Workshop gives general answers on this subject and they do not tell their main secrets. Now let's examine some of Elmo's answers to the question of "Why does Sesame Street Character Elmo Speak in Third Person".


Elmo's Answers for Third Person Speech


“Elmo said that the reason he spoke in the third person at an event in 2007 was that he made money every time he said ‘Elmo’. At yet another event, Elmo answered this question like this: 'it's just the way Elmo talks' ” [2]

Another statement of Elmo on the subject from the Sesame Street Twitter account is as follows:


Thus, we learned how futile it is to ask Elmo a question on this matter. Elmo is only three and a half years old Sesame Street character. Therefore, it is very natural for him to give short answers and joking to the questions asked to him. He is not yet a scientist candidate for Harvard University.

Since we cannot get enough information from Sesame Workshop and Elmo, we will approach the question of "Why Elmo speaks in third person?" from different perspectives.


Is Elmo's Third-Person Speech Harmful for the Children?


First of all, I have to state that. Elmo's third-person speech does not adversely affect the language development of children watching him on television or computers. If everyone around a kid talked like Elmo, that would be a big problem. Then you might think Elmo was visiting your home while your child was talking in the next room. Take it easy, man, Elmo is not a special agent hired for the kids to speak wrong.

So what is the truth?


1. Creating a Unique Character:


Creating a character in television shows like Sesame Street, in a movie or in a book is a really difficult and tricky job. Producers and writers need to be careful when creating characters. There should be precise lines separating each character created from other characters. If it is a puppet character, interesting characters are not created by simply changing the skin color. 

For example, Sesame Street characters other than Elmo do not speak in third person. This is a unique feature of the Elmo character. And Elmo might not have been so popular if this feature had been found in other puppets. Imagine how bad it is: Puppets imitating each other. This reminded me of the pictures I drew with carbon paper in elementary school. It sucks.

Due to the reason I explained above, Elmo character in Sesame Street has remained weaker than characters such as Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Ernie and Bert for many years. The Elmo puppet was designed in 1979, but it got the features that made it popular with Kevin Clash in the 1985-1990s.


2. Being Sympathetic Through Third-Person Speech:


For children, a puppet means much more than a cloth or plastic. Preschool children in particular live in a reality different from the reality of adults. They see puppets as real children, and it is essential to be sympathetic to get their attention. The third-person speech of Sesame Street character Elmo is, from my own observations, very cute for children. For this reason, the producers cannot give up this feature of the character. Otherwise, Elmo might be a cheesy boy like me. Who would want that? 😏

In this article, I tried to explain the real reasons for Elmo's third-person speech. I listed the opinions of Sesame Street, Elmo and my own personal thoughts on the subject. Of course, you are free to think and make a decision. Stay with love. ✌


Sources:

[1], [2]  Muppet Wiki - Elmo