Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What our speech reveals about us - use of pronouns

Happy New Year!  One of my goals is to write more consistently on this blog - so check back weekly to see what I'm thinking/writing about.

Several years ago my boss said something I still often think about:  our use of pronouns reveals a lot about us.  Do we say "I" or "we," "my" or "our."  When I hear someone talking about his or her job, or church, or even family, I'm tuned in to the use of pronouns.  So if someone says "at my job they . . ." it tells me the person doesn't really feel a part of the company.  They don't feel a sense of belonging.  Whereas, saying "at my company we . . ." shows the person does feel a part of the company. How do you talk about your place of employment?

For couples, some always say "we" and some always say "I."  This can be confusing either way, because then I'm never sure if the spouse is referring to just him/herself, or to both of them.  I invited a friend to a baby shower, and she replied "we will be there."  Hmmm - I didn't invite any men so I had to clarify her "we."  It turns out she always says "we."  This is lovely and shows a real sense of togetherness in the marriage, as opposed to married couples who always use "I."  

As parents we sometimes refer to "your" child, when obviously the child is "ours."  We usually use "your" when we want to distance ourselves from the child's behavior.   "Your son didn't take out the garbage."  The implication is that my son would have done it--strangely enough he is the same person!

Think about it.  And tune in to speech, your own and others' speech.

What do you think?

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