There’s a book of research that looks at how we speak to reveal more about the speaker. The Secret Life of Pronouns looks at ‘function’ words like I, you, and, an, then, to, for… well, you get the idea. The Secret Life of Pronouns explains just that as it looks into the language of conversations to explain mindset and status. The book’s author includes mini online exercises to gauge your assessment of who uses the word “I” more often. The point he makes is simple - we hear these words all the time, so we should know who is using them. Right?
Using words like “I” are an indicator of focus of attention, ownership of a topic and social hierarchy. How the words are used can tell us if someone is paying attention to the conversation they are in. While it is an interesting read, his book and research reiterates the fact that changing how you use function words won’t make you sound more engaged or more attentive.
Per the author:
“In English, there are fewer than 500 function words yet they account for more than half of the words we speak, hear, and read every day. By analyzing their use, we begin to learn how speakers are connecting with their audiences, their friends, their conversational topics, and themselves. People's use of pronouns tells us where they are paying attention. If they are thinking and talking about friends, they will use words like he, she, and they. If they are thinking and talking about the group or relationship they are in, they might use words like we and us. And if their attention is drawn to themselves, they use I, me, and my. If individuals feel extremely close to an object, event, or other person, they tend to link their sense of self to it.”
Article contributed by: Danielle Tavernier Spears | http://daniellespears.me
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