Pronouns. Her one true love

An excellent article by Jessica Love, Ph.D. candidate in cognitive psychology at Ohio State University.

Some choice bits:

I and you are challenging for children to learn: some children go through a stage where, not understanding you’s speaker-specific meaning, they hear their mothers say, “Do you want a cookie?” and respond “You want cookie! You want cookie!” How charming! Interestingly, some deaf children learning American Sign Language make the same mistake. Fluent speakers of ASL point to themselves to indicate I. It’s as iconic as a sign can get. But that young ASL learner will point at his mother until she hands him a cookie. It’s hard not to envy the language-acquisition researchers the adorableness of their subjects.”

"There is even evidence that linguistic markers of gender can shape the way we think. Not in big ways. Not in the ways that had so much of social science drooling in the ’60s. But in little ways, more like a nail file than a chain saw. A Stanford researcher presented bilingual English-Spanish and English-German speakers with a picture of a bridge. In Spanish and German, unlike English, even some inanimate objects are referenced with gendered pronouns.

"In Spanish the word for bridge is marked masculine (and thus referenced with a masculine pronoun); in German the word is marked feminine. The researcher instructed the participants to describe the photograph. Then an independent group of participants rated all of the adjectives the bilinguals had written as either masculine or feminine.”

In the Japanese language, “you” translates as several words, such as anata, anta, omae, kimi, and otaku. The first one can be used commonly; the last one has now a special meaning, that is, “people with obsessive interests.” I think I am writing-otaku. I am not manga-otaku.

Jessica Love might be pronouns-otaku.

I think I suffer a mild (or not so mild, in some cases) form of 強迫性障害. Don’t know if it’s related to the term “otaku."

Certainly my son learned to say “you” before he said “I”. I read a book about the develpment of language which I think said that the imperative is hisorically the oldest verb form. If so, then “[you] give me a cake!” is a simpler construct than “I want a cake” and by extension “you” (the person I want to perform a particular action right now)" is a simpler construction than “I” (a person with a complex set of needs and desires).

When Robin did learn “I” it was in the context “I don’t want you to do that”, which is another sort of imperative phrase.

I could also have a somewhat simpler (if at all accurate) explanation. Everyone around a child refers to him as “you” or by his name. So it’s logical that he then picks it up and uses it to refer to himself. Wasn’t there a writer who in his memoirs wrote he had thought his name was Get Lost until he turned five?

Thank you for sharing the interesting article.

The word " otaku ", at least for me, refers to people who enjoy being
obsessed with something. So it must be different from 強迫性障害,
in which people suffer from being obsessed with something.
I am afraid I am suffering from a kind of 強迫性障害, too.
(not serious, though )

By the way, is Steven Pinker who Jessica Love mentioned in
the article one of the speakers of TED Talks?

This is one of my favorite speeches.
It is also about language and thoughts.

Yes, it’s most definitely him. I don’t know of any other prominent linguist by this name. And yes, he’s great.