Angie's Reviews > The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us

The Secret Life of Pronouns by James W. Pennebaker
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's review
Oct 05, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: goodreads-giveaways, thought-stimulators, about-words
Recommended for: Word nerds
Read from October 05 to November 30, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 1

My family laughed at me when they found out I was reading a book about the secret life of pronouns--what secrets could prounouns possibly have, anyway?--but the concept that the "nothing words" of language can be a mirror into individuals' lives was fascinating to me.

I was somewhat disappointed to discover, however, that a person's word usage is so subtle that it takes a computer program to find these connections. I can't just walk down a street, strike up a conversation with a random stranger, and within 10 minutes be able to tell if the person is arrogant, depressed, insecure, or lying, simply by paying attention to word nuances.

We all know that words have a huge affect on our lives, but the point this book repeatedly makes is not that words shape us, but rather that our words--particularly the function words that no one notices--reflect who we are, what motivates us, and how we think. Despite our efforts to hide aspects of our personalities, our words shout out to the world startling insights anyway; fortunately, though, no one realizes just how much our words are saying about us.

By reading this book, I had hoped to learn how to become a better ghost writer and how to manipulate the tone of my writing for various projects. I didn't exactly get that, but the book was fascinating nonetheless.

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