My wife had an aversion to the first person pronoun. She would do practically anything to avoid saying "I". She thought it was egotistical to make frequent, direct reference to herself, whether in speech or in writing. Among traditional Chinese, she probably was not entirely unique in that regard, but she was extreme in her first person avoidance, and it was through her that I became aware of the lengths to which someone might go keep from saying "I".
I do not fully comprehend the psychological reasons why some people shy away from use of the first person pronoun, but my sense is that it has to do with not wanting to be assertive.
Omission of the first person pronoun was almost like a religion for Li-ching, but zero anaphora extended beyond the first person to all the other pronouns, though not as prohibitively. Sinitic languages, by nature, are pro-drop; it's not unusual to see twenty or more sentences in a row without a pronoun.
Keith Vander Linden, Zhihua Long, and Liang Tao, "Chinese Zero Anaphora in Translation: A Preliminary System" in Victor H. Mair and Yongquan Liu, eds., Characters and Computers ( Amsterdam, Oxford, Washington, Tokyo: IOS Press, 1991).
It was particularly difficult, virtually impossible, for Li-ching to say "I love you" to anyone, not even her mother or me, for both of whom she had deep affection.
With Li-ching's "I" avoidance and "I love you" avoidance as a background, I was intrigued when recently (within the last few years) I have been hearing more and more people, especially young people, toss off the expression "luv u" in their conversations with others. I think I hear it most often near the conclusion of telephone conversations. It seems to function as a signal that the speaker wants to stop talking. My impression is that, after "luv u", it's not even necessary to say "goodbye".
When I first heard this casual "luv u", I thought that perhaps it might be the quirk of a few individuals. It was not long, however, before I became aware of just how pervasive this usage is in the current vocabulary of the younger generation.
In truth, I don't know precisely what "luv u" means or is meant to mean. Well, maybe it's just "I love you" lite. It's similar to "miss u", which also peppers the speech of people I overhear talking on their cell phones. Is this some kind of "I" avoidance as with Li-ching? Or is it simple elision to save a syllable?
For a cross-cultural, cross-linguistic study relevant to "I love you" and "luv u", I recommend:
Rémi CAMUS, "‘Je t’aime’ revisité / ‘Je t’aime’ Revisited", Inter Faculty Institute for Comparative Research in Human and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba 6 (2015).
The footnotes about Chinese and Japanese may be of particular interest to some LLog readers:
The French phrase Je t’aime is frequently to be found written on everyday items or used as a leitmotiv in commercial music. It is believed to be more or less translatable in all languages irrespective of context. This paper attempts to deal with the linguistic implications of these and other distinctive features that make Je t’aime such an unusual linguistic object. The first part is devoted to an attempt at translating Je t’aime in Japanese and Hungarian. It comes out that there exist at least three classes of interpretation, three ways of producing equivalent utterances based on a translation of the verb aimer. The second part focuses on the French phrase per se; it examines some famous accounts of Je t’aime by Paul Valéry, Roland Barthes and Jean-Luc Marion and tries to grasp and emphasize their linguistic meaning. The results of the morphology and syntax-driven analysis in Part 1 prove also relevant without modification of the surface formal structure. As a conclusion, we propose three interpretative patterns with their own grammatical features and even pragmatic outcomes; the pseudo-universal motto of French amour is but one of them.