Friday, January 14

Me, I, umm, myself...

While writing English texts, especially this blog, I frequently shuffle with discomfort as can not find a way around using the words "I" and "me" several times in almost each sentence of every paragraph. I guess that using these words a lot is natural, as I am writing a lot about myself, yet it takes some getting used to for me. Using passive voice is an alternative, but it causes more stylistic problems than it solves. I think that some prolific writers structure their sentences to dodge the problem somehow, but I just can not grasp, much less adopt it.

The awkwardness probably comes from my native language. In Lithuanian there is no need to repeat the "I"'s because all verbs have a first-person form, if my phrasing is correct. I can only think of the word "am" in English, as in "I am here", as an analogy, other verbs do not have the difference ("I live" vs. "you live" vs. "they live"). Actually I frequently spot naïve translations from English which indicate the agents explicitly when it is not needed, and this makes the sentences more blunt and unfriendly. I seem to remember a text which discussed fundamental differences between languages where the agent is implied and ones where it is not, so I might have covered just the tip of the iceberg (note to self: cut down on clichés).

One could speculate if using "I" and "me" frequently has a subconscious effect on the writer (or the reader). However, as I am not a psychologist, I will refrain from discussion.

I will again slightly change topic here and use the chance to mention E-Prime. In short, E-Prime is a subset of English which does not include forms of the verb "to be". There are already enough resources to explain it on the web (such as this one), so I need not do that here. I just thought I would mention it as it tries to deal with other aspects of bluntness of the English language.

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