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Posts tagged ‘language’

The Secret Life of Pronouns

I just finished reading Jamie Pennebaker’s book, The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say about Us. Dr. Pennebaker is a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin. He studies how language relates to who we are and how we interact with others. This book provides an interesting look at the intersection between linguistics and, well, everything else. Here are 5 things I learned while reading this book:

  1. Reading this book has made me incredibly self-conscious about everything I write. This includes the number of I-words in an email to my boss and the manuscript revisions I’m working on with several colleagues. As I build this website and blog, I am hyper-aware of every first-person pronoun (I or we) and what information I’m conveying. It reminds me of the first time I read Sam Gosling‘s research on what our personal spaces say about us. Suddenly, you feel naked, like every word or action reveals who you really are. On the flip side, it makes me curious about who I “really am.” A quick analysis of journals, emails, and Facebook comments could be fascinating… Read more

Language and executive functioning in the brain

A couple years ago, I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Angie Laird, a professor at UTHSCSA‘s Research Imaging Institute. Her work involves mapping pathways of neural activity using neuroimaging data and connecting these pathways to behavioral and cognitive processes. During our meeting, Dr. Laird shared with me some fascinating discoveries, which were recently published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience (Laird et al., 2011).

Let me just say that I am not a neuroscientist. I’d need a whole stack of books (and maybe some classes) in order to fully understand this paper. Still, this paper—specifically Figure 4—has stuck with me. Every so often, I come back to it, still trying to wrap my head around what it means. Read more