Communication Lab 2: the secret life of pronouns

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32 minutes

Rob Ashton and Andy White discuss the secret life of pronouns, proofreading tips and why the Freedom of Information Act may have taken all the excitement out of government communications.

Further reading

Hear something you want to know more about? Here are some useful links.

The Planet Word series with Stephen Fry has now finished, but it’s available to buy from Amazon and other bookshops. The episode that Rob was talking about is this one.

Professor  James Pennebaker is a social psychologist based at the University of Texas. His book The Secret Life of Pronouns examines how and why pronouns and other forgettable words reveal so much about us.

The tool Rob mentions that analyses your writing is no longer available. But you can test your instincts about pronouns with this quiz and, if you’re on Twitter, have your  personality analysed via your tweets.

Americans will be familiar with the Gettysburg address, but for any Brits wishing to brush up, Gregory Peck does a good job of reading it in this video.

Here’s the letter from the civil servant to the Guardian about the Freedom of Information Act making communication in the public sector ‘anodyne, benign and sterile’.

For more tips on proofreading, you might like this post on our blog. And to make sure you never forget to check the headings and furniture, see this collection of newspaper blunders. Finally, test your observational powers with this monkey business: how many times do the players wearing white pass the ball?

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