The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us

The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us

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by James W. Pennebaker
     
 

We spend our lives communicating. We put thoughts into words to connect with family and friends, to express our desires, and increasingly, to earn our livings. In our lifetimes, we've zoomed through new forms of communication technology, going from typewriters to IMs, tweets, and text messages. More and more words are generated with each passing day. Hiding in that

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Overview

We spend our lives communicating. We put thoughts into words to connect with family and friends, to express our desires, and increasingly, to earn our livings. In our lifetimes, we've zoomed through new forms of communication technology, going from typewriters to IMs, tweets, and text messages. More and more words are generated with each passing day. Hiding in that deluge of language are amazing insights into who we are, how we think, and what we feel.

In The Secret Life of Pronouns, linguistic and social psychologist James W. Pennebaker uses his groundbreaking research in computational linguistics—in essence, counting the frequency of words we use—to show that our language carries secrets about our feelings, our self-concept, and our social intelligence. Using innovative techniques and insightful surveys (including quizzes you can take yourself) Pennebaker X-rays everything from Craigslist advertisements and Twitter to the Federalist Papers andclassic literature to reveal how our words show more than we think.

You'll learn why it's bad when politicians use "we" instead of "I," what Lady Gaga and William Butler Yeats have in common, and how Ebenezer Scrooge's syntax hints at his self-deception and repressed emotion. Barack Obama, Sylvia Plath, and King Lear make cameo appearances as well in this sparkling romp through language—a must-read for fans of Deborah Tannen, George Lakoff, and Steven Pinker.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608194803
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
08/30/2011
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
553,894
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Chapter 1 Discovering the Secret Life of the Most Forgettable Words 1

Chapter 2 Ignoring the Content, Celebrating the Style 18

Chapter 3 The Words of Sex, Age, and Power 39

Chapter 4 Personality: Finding the Person Within 73

Chapter 5 Emotion Detection 104

Chapter 6 Lying Words 131

Chapter 7 The Language of Status, Power, and Leadership 170

Chapter 8 The Language of Love 196

Chapter 9 Seeing Groups, Companies, and Communities Through Their Words 227

Chapter 10 Word Sleuthing 255

Appendix A Handy Guide for Spotting and Interpreting Function Words in the Wild 291

Notes 301

Bibliography and References 319

Index 335

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