On social media, I notice that people deliberately omit the word ‘I.’ What might be behind that?

By: | Post date: 2017-04-15 | Comments: No Comments
Posted in categories: English, Linguistics

None of the answers satisfy me, though Logan R. Kearsley’s is by far the closest to satisfying me.

EDIT: Uri Granta’s answer satisfies me more than mine. Go read that.

There is a colloquial register in English, in which the first person subject is omitted routinely. It predates social media; see, for example the Beatles’ A Day in the Life. The bits Lennon wrote use the pronoun; the middle section McCartney wrote skips it:

Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke,
Somebody spoke and I went into a dream

But contra Logan, I don’t think this is just spoken English. I think this is a particular narrative register of spoken English—it’s a conventionalised way of telling stories, in a punchy way. I don’t think you’ll find it in different kinds of speech, such as say persuasive speech or instructional speech.

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