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The pronoun as a factor of style

Transposition of the pronoun is connected with the change of the sphere of its use. Of special interest for stylistics are personal, indefinite, possessive and demonstrative pronouns. Employed by the author as a means of characterization the overuse of the personal pronoun I testifies to the speaker's complacency and egomania, while you, we or indefinite one used in reference to oneself instead of I characterize the speaker as a reserved and self-controlled person. In general, the use of the personal pronouns you, we, they and indefinite one may have the following connotations: that of identification of the speaker and the audience, and generalization (contrary to the individual meaning) that attributes a philosophical and abstract sounding to the utterance. We may as well state that in case of generalization pronouns have no definite reference, due to what the reader is included in the situation. In familiar colloquial style the same function of abstraction and generalization may be fulfilled by the nouns a man, a chap, a fellow, a baby, a body, a thing.

Personal pronouns we, you, they can be employed in the meaning different from their dictionary meaning. The pronoun we that usually means ‘speaking together or on behalf of other people’ or ‘the speaker plus another person or other persons’ can also be used with reference to a single person, the speaker. It is relevant in Royal speech, decrees of the King, etc., and is termed the plural of majesty. The plural of modesty, or the author's we (the so-called ' we-of-modesty ', or Pluralis Modestiae), is used with reference to a single person with the purpose to identify oneself with the group, or audience, or society at large, and to avoid extreme subjectivity. So it happens in the scientific prose style...

Often they has a purely expressive function because it does not substitute any real characters but indicates some abstract entity.

Archaic forms of the pronouns ye (you) and the form of the second pronoun singular thou (thee – objective case, possessive thy and its absolute form thine, reflective – thyself) are the indicators of the dialectal speech, of the official language (of a lawyer), of poetic and religious styles.

Here the use of he/his, she/her that substitute it/its is subjectively dependent and has nothing to do with the gender of nouns.The opposite use – of it instead of he or she – refers living beings to the class of inanimate objects. Such depersonification adds humorous, ironical or affectionate colouring to the utterance.

Frequently, the demonstrative pronouns do not point at anything or single out objects out of their class but signal the excitement of the speaker. E.g. These lawyers!

Of particular expressive and emotional force is the combination of a demonstrative pronoun with a possessive pronoun (in its absolute form) in postposition. E.g.This girl of mine



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