Session 9

People often say ‘you’ when describing their own experiences. Today we examine one psychologist’s theory about why this happens.
ሰዎች ስለራሳቸው ተሞክሮዎች ሲያስረዱ ‘you’ እያሉ ያወራሉ። ዛሬ ይህ ለምን እንደሚያጋጥም አንድ የስነ ልቦና ባለሞያ የሚያወሱትን እንመረምራለን።

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

Why do we say 'you' to describe personal experiences?

የግል ተሞክሯችንን ስንናገር ለምን አንተ ወይም አንቺ እንላለን?

People often say ‘you’ when describing their own experiences. Today we examine one psychologist’s theory about why this happens.
ሰዎች ስለራሳቸው ተሞክሮዎች ሲያስረዱ ‘you’ እያሉ ያወራሉ። ዛሬ ይህ ለምን እንደሚያጋጥም አንድ የስነ ልቦና ባለሞያ የሚያወሱትን እንመረምራለን።

Before you listen

Consider the following question:

  • Is ‘you’ a word which applies to just one person, or can it apply to more people?
  • How do we express our ideas about things which are normal?

Listen to the audio and take the quiz.

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ምህረተስላሴ
ጤና ይስጥልን፤ ይህ የእንግሊዘኛ ዜናዎችን ለመረዳት የሚያግዝዎትን ቋንቋ የሚማሩበት ሊስን ሂር ነው። ምህረተስላሴ እባላለሁ።

Sam
Hi, I’m Sam

Tom

And I’m Tom. Hi everybody.

ምህረተስላሴ
Oh! What’s wrong, Tom?

Tom
I’m sad. My dog died recently. You have a best friend when you have a dog.

Sam
What? I don’t have a dog.

Tom
I wasn’t talking about you, Sam!

Sam
You were! You said “you have a best friend when you have a dog”. And you were talking to me.

ምህረተስላሴ
እዚህ ላይ ቶም የግል ተሞክሮውን እየገለፀ ነው። ነገር ግን I የተባለውን ተውላጠ ስም ከመጠቀም ይልቅ you ን  እየተጠቀመ ነው። Why are you doing this, Tom?

Tom
Hmm, good question! We often use ‘you’ when we’re speaking in general.

ምህረተስላሴ
Speaking generally ወይም speaking in general በጥቅሉ ማለ ነው። General ውስን ባለሆነ መልክ ስንናገር እንደማለት ነው። ቅፅሉ generic ነው።
በቢቢሲ ሬዲዮ ፎር ላይ ከሚቀርበው ኦል ኢን ዘ ማይንድ መሰናዶ ላይ የተቀነጨበውን እናዳምጥ። አንድ አሜሪካዊ የስነ ልቦና ምሁር ቶም እየተጠቀመው የነበረው you አንድ ገፅታ የሆነው generic you ን በተመለከተ ማብራሪያ እየሰጡ ነው። ፕሮፌሰሯ የቶምን የ you ምርጫ ለማብራራት ምን ምክንያቶችን ነው ያቀረቡት።

Insert
So we were studying this generic you, so 'you' that refers to people in general rather than a specific person. And see whether people use generic 'you' to essentially try to construct norms, uh, or normalise their own deeply personal experiences.

Sam
Ah! So, Tom is trying to normalise his experience!

ምህረተስላሴ
Normalise
መላመድ ማለት ነው። Do you think it’s normal to feel so close to a pet, Tom?

Tom
Yeah! Of course.

Sam
So you’re using ‘you’ to make your statement seem normal or general.

ምህረተስላሴ
make ን የሚተካ ሌላኛው ቃል construct ነው። በድጋሚ ያዳምጡ። construct ን ተከትሎ የሚመጣው የትኛው ቃል ነው?

Insert
So we were studying this generic 'you', so 'you' that refers to people in general rather than a specific person. And see whether people use generic 'you' to essentially try to construct norms.

Sam
She said to construct norms.

ምህረተስላሴ
A norm የተለመደ ወይም መደበኛ የሆነ ነገር የሚል ትርጉም ያለው ስም ነው። አሪያና እንደሚሉት ለጥቅል ግልጋሎት የሚውለውን generic you የመጠቀም ሁለት ውጤቶች/ተፅዕኖዎች ምንድን ናቸው?

Insert
And we found that using generic 'you' helped people to feel that the event was more distant in time and people reported that they were able to think about the event differently than they had before and had higher feelings of closure afterwards. 

Sam
Interesting! She suggests that using generic 'you' can help you think about past events differently! By not using ‘I’, she suggests things can feel further away.

Tom
Hmm. If I say ‘I have a best friend when I have a dog’, it does sound very personal!

Sam
Also, by avoiding ‘I’, and using ‘you’, we suggest that this experience is one that many people share. That’s also why we use the present tense – to suggest it’s always true.

ምህረተስላሴ
ባለሞያዋ generic you ሊፈጥርብን ይችላል ያሉት ስሜት የትኛው ነው?  ‘feeling of’ ከሚለው በኋላ ደግመው ያዳምጡ።

Insert

And we found that using generic 'you' helped people to feel that the event was more distant in time and people reported that they were able to think about the event differently than they had before and had higher feelings of closure afterwards.

Tom
She said closure.

ምህረተስላሴ
Closure የአንድ ነገር ድምዳሜ እና ተይይዞ የሚመጣው የዕፎይታ ስሜት ማለት ነው። Do you think generic 'you' helps to provide closure, Tom?

Tom
Actually, yes! Using generic 'you' helps to add some distance between me and this painful memory.

Sam
Ah! Here, Tom said ‘to add’. Because ‘add’ starts with a vowel sound, we have a /w/ sound which links the two words. Say it with me!

add
to add
helps to add distance

ምህረተስላሴ
ጊዜያችንን እያጠናቀቅን ነው!

Sam
See? Time goes quickly when you’re having fun!

Tom
Nice use of generic 'you' Sam.

Sam
Thanks very much Tom!

ምህረተስላሴ
ለተጨማሪ ሊስን ሂር በሚቀጥለው ሳምንት እንገናኝ።

Listen to today’s clip in full here

Source: All in the Mind

Language features

generic you
This is a form of ‘you’ we use when we want to comment on people in general. It is similar in form to the pronoun ‘one’. Use of ‘you’ in this way implies that we are speaking based on our own experiences. If we are making generalisations, we often use the present simple tense, which suggests that something is always true.

I’m sad because my dog died. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone!

We can also use the possessive form, your, to the same effect.

Your dog is like your best friend. It’s sad when they die.


norm
A norm is an abstract noun which means ‘something that is standard’. It relates to the adjective, normal.

The legal norm in this situation is for the buyer to pay the seller as quickly as possible.

We can also use ‘the norm’. This means ‘the normal thing in a context’.

We didn’t use smartphones in the past but in recent years they’ve become the norm.

When we want to say that something is actively being made normal we can use the verb ‘normalise’.

There are allegations that the politician is trying to normalise political violence in his speeches.

closure
Closure is a feeling of relief or resolution. We often use closure to stress the long duration of the experience which came before.

The funeral was horrible to organise but I did feel a sense of closure when it was all finished.

Why do we say ‘you’ to describe personal experiences?

3 Questions

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ትክክለኛውን መልስ ይምረጡ

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Join us for our next episode of Listen Here, when we will learn more useful language and practise your listening skills.
ጠቃሚ የቋንቋ መሰረታዊያን ለመማር እና የማዳመጥ ክህሎትዎን በመለማመድ ለማዳበር በቀጣዩ ሊስን ሂር መሰናዷችን ይጠብቁን።

Session Vocabulary

  • in general
    በጥቅሉ

    generally
    በጠቅላላው

    generic
    ጠቅላላ/ለሁሉም የሚያገለግል

    construct
    መገንባት