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.