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Some Psychological Perspectives on Pronouns

Kashima, E. S., & Kashima, Y. (1998). Culture and language: The case of cultural dimensions and personal pronoun use. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 29, 461 – 486.

- Analyzed cultural differences between countries with languages that have a ‘pronoun drop’ option (such as Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Mandarin, Indonesian, Korean, Russian, etc .) and that don’t have a ‘pronoun drop’ option (e.g. English, German, French, Greek, Finnish, etc. ).

- Pronoun drop option refers to the possibility in spoken language to express first and second person perspective without the explicit use of “I” or “you”

- The idea is that an explicit use of “I” and “you” highlights a figure against the speech context that constitutes the ground; the absence reduces the prominence of the speaker; consequently, the authors hypothesize that countries with a pronoun drop language tend to be more collectivistic as compared to countries with languages with obligatory pronoun use. This should be the case because implicitly in a conversation less ‘overt’ distinctions are made between speakers, less emphasis is put on the different perspectives.

- Across 71 countries and 39 languages indicators of individualism-collectivism (Hofstede, 1980) correlated with the type of language in the direction that pronoun drop countries were less individualistic

- Other results: Pronoun drop goes with more power distance, more paternalism, more conservatism, more moral discipline and less achievement orientation.

Sillars, A., Wesley, S., McIntosh, A., Pomegranate, M. (1997). Relational characteristics of language: Elaboration and differentiation in marital conversation. Western Journal of Communication, 61, 403 – 422.

- Adopt the theoretical notion that personal references in marital conversations can reflect the degree of differentiation (integration) of identities with “we” pronouns showing greater inclusion/ integration and...