The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us
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Bloomsbury Publishing 2011
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Street Date
8/23/2011
Language
English
ISBN
9781608194971
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APA Citation (style guide)

Pennebaker, J. W. (2011). The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Pennebaker, James W. 2011. The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Pennebaker, James W, The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2011.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Pennebaker, James W. The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2011. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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Grouped Work ID2907c307-33ad-6581-aecf-c8cf8cfeaa02
Full titlesecret life of pronouns what our words say about us
Authorpennebaker james w
Grouping Categorybook
Last Update2020-03-18 16:34:27PM
Last Indexed2020-03-25 11:15:43AM

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      • role: Author
      • fileAs: Pennebaker, James W.
      • bioText: James W. Pennebaker is the chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Writing to Heal and Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions, which has been translated into a dozen languages. You can analyze your own language using his Web site, http://www.secretlifeofpronouns.com/
      • name: James W. Pennebaker
imprint
Bloomsbury Press
publishDate
2011-08-23T00:00:00-04:00
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title
The Secret Life of Pronouns
fullDescription
A surprising and entertaining explanation of how the words we use (even the ones we don't notice) reveal our personalities, emotions, and identities.

We spend our lives communicating. In the last fifty years, we've zoomed through radically different forms of communication, from typewriters to tablet computers, text messages to tweets. We generate more and more words 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, social psychologist and language expert 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. Our most forgettable words, such as pronouns and prepositions, can be the most revealing: their patterns are as distinctive as fingerprints.

Using innovative analytic techniques, Pennebaker X-rays everything from Craigslist advertisements to the Federalist Papers-or your own writing, in quizzes you can take yourself-to yield unexpected insights. Who would have predicted that the high school student who uses too many verbs in her college admissions essay is likely to make lower grades in college? Or that a world leader's use of pronouns could reliably presage whether he led his country into war? 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 are among the figures who make cameo appearances in this sprightly, surprising tour of what our words are saying-whether we mean them to or not.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: New York Times Book Review
      • content: Penetrating ... lively and accessible ... Paying closer attention to function words [Pennebaker] advises, can help us understand the social relations that those words reflect. Unfortunately, we might not be able to pay proper attention until we're all equipped with automatic word counters. Until that day, we have Pennebaker as an indefatigable guide to the little words that he boldly calls 'keys to the soul.'
      • premium: False
      • source: Austin American Statesman
      • content: Anyone who reads his book will become much more conscious about how he or she uses words when talking to friends, when talking to the public, or when writing for the public ... Pennebaker's new book is fascinating and fun
      • premium: False
      • source: Dallas Morning News
      • content: Provocative ... eye-opening ... The Secret Life of Pronouns is studded with muse-worthy examples of language's hidden power
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        May 9, 2011
        In this intriguing treatise on computational linguistics, Pennebaker (Writing to Heal), chair of psychology at the University of Texas–Austin, probes innocuous "function words"—such as pronouns, prepositions, and articles—for clues to hidden states of mind. Deploying computer analyses of word-use frequency, he conducts an exercise in psychological and demographic profiling by means of verbal tell-tales: people who overuse articles, nouns, prepositions, and the word "we," for example, tend to be old, male, high-status, and cheerful, while people who overuse pronouns, verbs, and the word "I" tend to be young, female, low-status, and depressed. Pennebaker's accessible, entertaining account dissects a riotous assortment of language samples, from presidential speeches and Shakespeare to Beatles songs and Lady Gaga tweets, expounding on everything from the self-absorbed "language of suicidal poets" to the circumlocutions of liars. He's not always trenchant—Osama bin Laden's rhetoric betrayed a "need for power," he reveals—and he's sometimes overly reductionist; he speculates that poets Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning's "tend to use function words similarly... may explain why the two were so attracted to one another," and then graphs their relationship. Still, Pennebaker's take on the unexpected importance of throw-away words is the kind of fun pop linguistics readers devour. B&w illus.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        August 1, 2011

        A comprehensive investigation of how our words—what we say and how we say it—reveal important insights about our behavior, emotions and personalities.

        Pennebaker (Psychology/Univ. of Texas; Writing to Heal, 2004, etc.) is well-known in psychotherapy circles for his work in the way language and mental health correspond. Here, the author continues exploring this connection between emotion, behavior, perception, cognition and language with a specific focus on what he calls "stealth words," or the small function words in our lexicon, like prepositions and pronouns, that are seemingly invisible in day-to-day speech. Pennebaker's own research and analysis of other linguistic and psychological studies is exhaustive and includes an immense amount of computational data via analytical programs like Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (or LIWC) and methods like LSM or language style matching detection. However, the author balances his data analysis with interesting and entertaining anecdotes, examples, narratives and dialogue, and his research sampling is vast: tweets by Paris Hilton and Oprah Winfrey, online dating profiles, King Lear, love letters between Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning vs. the language of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, samples of instant messaging, scenes from The Godfather, presidential press conferences and more. The author successfully demonstrates that seemingly innocuous function words—I, me, you, he, can, for, it, of, this—play a crucial role in understanding identity, detecting emotions and realizing intention; they also provide important clues about social and cultural cohesion. In addition to these varied language samples, Pennebaker investigates a wide range of situations and topics including trauma from war or abuse, social and gender inequity and relationships of power, as well as daily self-perception or self-deception. Some assertions that seem like hasty generalizations—i.e., that couples who use parallel function words are more likely to have a happy marriage—are supported with such a preponderance of evidence that they become convincing and compelling.

        Essential reading for psychotherapists and readers interested in the connection between language and human behavior, emotion and perception.

         

        (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

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shortDescription
A surprising and entertaining explanation of how the words we use (even the ones we don't notice) reveal our personalities, emotions, and identities.

We spend our lives communicating. In the last fifty years, we've zoomed through radically different forms of communication, from typewriters to tablet computers, text messages to tweets. We generate more and more words 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, social psychologist and language expert 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. Our most forgettable words, such as pronouns and prepositions, can be the most revealing: their patterns are as distinctive as fingerprints.

Using...
sortTitle
Secret Life of Pronouns What Our Words Say About Us
crossRefId
621179
subtitle
What Our Words Say About Us
publisher
Bloomsbury Publishing