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R-rated pronouns and adjectives?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011
posted by Douglas Keene

I never heard of the ‘secret life of pronouns’ nor the “dark side of adjectives” when I was growing up. Pronouns and adjectives were staid and predictable parts of speech that I struggled to make sense of in order to diagram sentences in [totally useless] homework assignments.

Now, however, we have pronouns revealing hidden meanings and manipulations. And guess what those bad-boy adjectives do? They cloud and obscure your intent. Really? I spend decades in elementary, junior high, high school, college and graduate school learning how to put adjectives into my writing and it makes my writing worse? Really?

Neuromarketing blog says the simpler the writing, the more likely it will go viral. We are not that interested in “going viral” with our posts but we are interested in what contributes to greater engagement and understanding in what we say and what we write. [Oh, who are we kidding? We love it when our posts echo through the information universe. We just don’t like the adjective ‘viral’.]

It takes confidence and experience to make how you talk and write less academic and less pedantic. We think of academic style writing as a skill that helps one to succeed in school and, if not modified, to fail in business. Here’s what we’ve learned from our mock jurors. And our moms too.

Keep it simple. Ideas that are spoken plainly are more credible. The simple story usually wins.

We made the ABA Blawg 100 list for the second year! Please take a minute to vote for us HERE under the Trial Practice category.

Pennebaker, J. (2011). The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us. Bloomsbury Press.

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