TECHNOLOGY: The hidden meaning of pronouns

Mind Matters | Mind & Brain
The Secret Language Code
Psychologist James Pennebaker reveals the hidden meaning of pronouns
By Gareth Cook | August 16, 2011 | 5

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These differences hold up across written and spoken language and most other languages that we have studied. You can’t help but marvel at the fact that we are all bombarded by words from women and men every day of our lives and most of us have never “heard” these sex differences in language. Part of the problem is that our brains aren’t wired to listen to pronouns, articles, prepositions, and other “junk” words. When we listen to another person, we typically focus on what they are saying rather than how they are saying it.

Men and women use language differently because they negotiate their worlds differently. Across dozens and dozens of studies, women tend to talk more about other human beings. Men, on the other hand, are more interested in concrete objects and things. To talk about human relationships requires social and cognitive words. To talk about concrete objects, you need concrete nouns which typically demand the use of articles.

No matter what your sex, if you have to explain that Sally is leaving her husband because of her new lover, you have to make references to all the actors and you have to do some fairly complex cognitive analyses. If you have to explain why your carburetor in your car is broken, your causal analysis will likely be relatively pallid and will involve referring to concrete nouns.

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So where is the website that analyzes my emails and tells me what a wack job I am? I can use the dikw (i.e., data, information, knowledge, wisdom) to figure out how to get from here to there.


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