‘We’ but Not ‘Me’

A Sociolinguistic Study of the Speaker-exclusive First Person Plural Pronoun ‘We’

  • Annika Schimpff


Speaker-exclusive ‘we’ (SEW) is an under-researched area of linguistics. In this paper, health professionals’ and non-health professionals’ perceptions and attitudes towards the speaker-exclusive ‘we’ are investigated to explore differences and similarities in both German and Australian contexts. Data were collected through the distribution of an online matched guise survey. Findings of 40 Australian and 36 German participants show a strong correlation between speaker-exclusive ‘we’ usage and feelings of intimacy and familiarity in German and English. Australian attitudes towards SEW appear to be more positive and/or indifferent, whereas most Germans tended to dislike the use of SEW.