Monday on Writing talks Pronouns and Communication

Has anything I have said to date on this blog has led you to believe that I read the Harvard Business Review?

Go on, you can be honest. 😉

Well, occasionally, I do, as I believe in broadening the mind (and, you know, himself sometimes brings one home from his flitting about on planes).

Anyway, in the December 2011 edition they had a FASCINATING article about research done by one James W Pennebaker on how the use of pronouns reveals one’s personality.

You can read a preview of the article here and there are links to read more or buy a copy or subscribe to the Review.  (Incidentally, anyone with a website should take note of how easy and clear the HBR site makes it to do all these things.  There’s a lot writers can learn from them that isn’t in the articles.)

According to the website about the book, ‘Jamie Pennebaker is an internationally recognized social psychologist who’s endlessly curious about human nature’.

Which, if you were wondering, should explain why I think his work is relevant to a Monday on Writing post (and for those in Australia, I know it’s Tuesday here, but it’s still Monday in America, so there).

Because what are we, as writers, if not endlessly curious about human nature?  We are mining the same soil for insight as he is.  But he’s doing it in the form of research about the way we communicate which I think could be invaluable to writers when writing dialogue.

You can read more about the book here and there are buying links at the bottom of that page.  It’s gone on my TBR list for just as soon as my edits are done (just in case my editor is reading this 😉 ).

In the meantime, you might like to watch this video interview with the writer about the work.

The picture at the top of this post is courtesy of

10 thoughts on “Monday on Writing talks Pronouns and Communication

  1. But, Stephanie, sometimes using “one” puts you/your character at a remove that is necessary to the action or style of writing. It is also useful in historicals for certain social groups. One doubts its place in modern romance writing. 😉 Plan to check out this article asap Imelda. I love this sort of writing/research too.
    Glad you’re back from the dark. Missed your blogs for a while there!

    • thanks, Sue, I missed writing them! Which came as a surprise, but there you go. In the article, a little breakout box said that ‘function words’ (the article explains what these are) account for 0.5% of the average vocabulary but 55% or what we speak, hear and read in typical speech. It really is fascinating stuff.

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