Unspecified Nouns - Who or What

Unspecified Nouns – Who or What

Unspecified nouns are nouns (the person/being or thing part) where you don’t know who or what they are specifically talking about. NLP calls this a lack of referential index. Don’t you love these terms?
Not knowing who or what the person is talking about can result in misunderstanding. You (or they) tend to fill in the gaps with your (or their) own ideas – mind reading. In other words we guess and then act on that guess.

We often talk about this mythical group of people called “they” or other groups. They won’t like me, they are better than me. Employers don’t like too many jobs on a resume. Men don’t like smart women. This kind of thinking can limit us when we respond to “them” rather than real specific people.

We can also stereotype people when we don’t recognize that we are really talking about 2 actual people we know. New Zealanders are bossy (I made that up, I love Kiwis)

Some examples

People scare me

  • Every person on the planet
  • The girls in the office
  • New Zealanders
  • The neighbours
  • Elderly drivers wearing hats
  • People who don’t do as they are told

Notice there can be many levels of this. Which New Zealanders specifically scare you?

They say this is easy

  • Customer service reps where you bought it
  • My sisters
  • Some characters on TV
  • Some made up “others” you have no direct experience of

The other part of the deletion (the unspecified verb) is “What is easy?”

  • Turning on the computer
  • Word-processing
  • Sending emails
  • Printing out stuff
  • Learning new things

No one listens to me

  • The kids
  • My customers
  • The Staff
  • The neighbours
  • The dog

I think they have lost the plot

  • The bank
  • The senate
  • Movie producers
  • What plot have they lost, a real one or a metaphorical one
  • The one for the movie
  • The running of the country

It’s delightful

  • The weather
  • The chair
  • The company
  • The conversation
  • The view
  • The surroundings
  • Wearing my new dress

You want to find out who or what the person is talking about.

Questions to Recover

  • Who specifically scares you?
  • Which people do you mean?
  • Who is “they”
  • Who is “no one”
  • What specifically delights you?
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