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The Secret Life Of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us (2011)

by James W. Pennebaker(Favorite Author)
3.55 of 5 Votes: 4
1608194809 (ISBN13: 9781608194803)
Bloomsbury Press
review 1: Pennebaker explores the world of "function words" - aka pronouns, prepositions, and articles - and explains how we can learn about people based on their use of these words, even after setting aside considerations for content. I really did find it fascinating, especially the first half of the book. It does get a little repetitive after that. One of the main things I found interesting is how people's excessive use of "I" words (I, me, my) can indicate that they are from a low social class, are depressed, or are just being honest. If you're interested in linguistics as a hobby, this book will be a fun read. Others may just get bored.
review 2: My career has been spent looking at data. Playing with data sets actually makes me smile. So a book like this one is appea
... moreling to my data geek side. Pennebaker is a researcher and professor who is interested in what our words say about us. He and some research assistants developed a computer program to analyze the usage of pronouns in what people say and/or write (bloggers, famous authors, survey participants, college essays, and others) and then paired that with other survey data and information. From these data sets, Pennebaker backs up his belief that: (a) the frequency and manner in which we use pronouns matters; and (b) not only do they matter, but they also reveal interesting things about the person. The chapters of the book are focused on what pronoun usage says about our truthfulness, our personality, our gender, our age, our emotions, and other interesting breakouts. Overall, it’s a highly fascinating read. My minor complaints are that, first, while Pennebaker cautions several times that correlation does not indicate causation, the way he interprets and explains the findings does lead the reader on in believing that our pronoun usage is in fact caused by our age/gender/emotional state/et al. Second, as a professor of psychology, he tends to read into the psychology of what the pronouns may be saying. And despite pulling in other research studies to buttress his data interpretation, as anyone who works with data knows, there’s always a way to spin data and research studies to make your point. Data quibbles aside, this is a good look at linguistics from a statistical perspective. Recommended for people who like to read research papers. less
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Fun for cocktail cinversation fodder.
Skimmed through this one.
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