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The Semantics of Emotions PS R.Hickey “Language and Culture” Florian Peter Grundstudium LN.

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Presentation on theme: "The Semantics of Emotions PS R.Hickey “Language and Culture” Florian Peter Grundstudium LN."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Semantics of Emotions PS R.Hickey “Language and Culture” Florian Peter Grundstudium LN

2 The Semantics of Emotions n Introduction n Theories of the emotions n Comparison between some English emotions n “Happiness” in an European perspective n Culture- related emotions

3 Semantics of Emotions- Introduction n a field of semantics n emotions and colours as well highlight and sharpen the theoretical and methodological conflicts in semantics n ==> they illustrate how the study of linguistic semantics is influenced by other human science disciplines n e.g.. psychology, anthropology, semantics

4 Introduction n Why should we study semantics of emotions? n Emotions are a subject in which nearly everybody is interested in n ==> 1. interested in our own feelings n ==> 2. interested in the feelings of others

5 Introduction n in the last decade, there has been much controversial discussion about: n the nature of emotions n the meaning of emotions n ==> human science disciplines which deal with such questions are: n anthropology, psychology, semantics

6 W. Jamesian “Physicalism” n Founder of the “Physicalist Theory of Emotion” n he asked himself the question if emotions are essentially physical in nature n fear for example depend on n 1. bodily symptoms like trembling, excitement n 2. our awareness of them n ==> when we fear sth. we can also see it on our body

7 n But, there are some emotions, as happiness which do not have any prototypical body signs n even so, there are some basic emotions like anger, fear, surprise, sadness, joy which all have typical body signs n other emotions are declared as amalgams: n delight= joy+ surprise

8 n Proponents of this theory say that each feeling can be seen in the mimic of people (facial expressions) n these facial expressions match up all over the world n across language and culture barriers n But, psychologists and anthropologists found out, that there is much diversity and variation n Briggs Inuit, Lutz Ifauk, Rosaldo Hongot

9 n two main rivals in the basic emotion theory n cognitive approach / social constructivism n first one depends on mental processes n ex. proud = there is a good reason for people to think well of one n ex. angry = on has been wronged and feeling an urge to retaliate

10 n second one takes emphasis on the cultural aspect n therefore emotions are shaped by social judgements, cultural values etc. n in connection to that Geerts(1975) says that “emotions are cultural artifacts”

11 n to tackle emotions across language and culture barriers, one cannot use complex, specific terms n terms are not universal n Ifaluk for example have no word for anger n What do we have to do now? n ==> we have to find words which have a counterpart, like to think, to feel, good, bad....

12 n Linguists are not really interested if the emotion are real, n but as semantics is the study of meaning, n it is about “the meaning of the words by which people discuss and describe emotions”

13 n Iordanskajas’s work on emotions n important points she highlighted: n firstly: emotion terms of different cultures really do not match up n secondly: the task of linguists is about analysing the meaning in such a clear way so that a cultural outsider is able to understand it

14 n Definition of an emotion term should have two components n internal description of the emotional state (good feeling/ bad feeling; active/ passive) n reason for its occurrence n she classified Russian emotions into six groups n joy, anger, grief, fear, hope, surprise,

15 n main features for this division is the experiencer’s assessment n if s.o. likes or dislikes the event n if s.o. wants do to anything in relation to the event

16 n Wierzbicka on emotion concepts n founder of the prototypical scenario n inspired by the author Tolstroy who wrote Anna Karenina, n a book which describes a wide range of possible scenarios and linked to that a wide range of emotions

17 n It is important to note, that emotions differ due to subjective reasons for its occurrence n Moreover it is important that one can feel sth. without knowing the cause n sth good is happening now n not everybody feels joy, but when s.o. feels joy good happened

18 Comparison between some English emotions n Differences between happy, joyful and pleased depend on the use of it n happy= self oriented or personal n x feels happy/ good has happened to me/ i wanted this/ i don’t want other things now n so beside self oriented it is past perfective and also implies further desires n ex.:Are you thinking of applying for atransfer? No I am quite happy where I am

19 n joy= could apply to other people/ not self oriented/ has also a present perspective n x feels joy/ very good is happening now/ I want this n ex.: To his mother’s joy, he won the first price

20 Difference between sad and unhappy n sad: contains components like resignation and acceptance n ex.: “If my cat dies, I will be sad not unhappy!” n unhappy: suggests a more active frame of mind/ an unaccepting, active response n ex.: “I am unhappy about it” ==> could imply that s.o. intends to do about it (like changing the situation)

21 Happiness in an European perspective n happy is a common and everyday word in English n joy is more stylistically marked n but in other European languages words with a meaning close to joy are used more often n ex.: in German “sich freuen” and “Freude” are used on a daily basis

22 n In contrast “glücklich” and “Glück” are not used on a daily basis n beside the difference in frequency, it is important to note that there is only a rough meaning correspondence between “glücklich and happy”

23 n happy: a less intense emotion than “glücklich” n German “Glück”: leaving no room for any further wishes or desires n happy has a more limited character n ex.: I am happy with this answer ---> “glücklich” does not fit in here n so one has to use less intense words; in this case words like “zufrieden”

24 Culture-related emotions n emotion terms are culture related n every culture has a folk psychology n in connection to that emotion terms are directly related to the values and priorities of a culture

25 n Japanese amae n Takeo Doi: “[Amae] is a key concept for the understanding not only of the psychological makeup of the individual Japanese but of the structure of Japanese society as a whole.” n it is hard for the Japanese to believe that there no word in English for amae ==>”Why, even a puppy does it” (=colleague of Doi)

26 n Amae is a good feeling n something like “to presume upon another’s love” and “to take advantage of another’s kindness” n indicates that there is someone powerful and well intentioned (x can do things for me/ x wants to do good things) n and because of this you are completely protected (nothing bad can happen to me)

27 n Moreover you do not have to do anything ==> it is the responsibility of X to do n Amae can exist in adult relationships like husband and wife, doctor and patient, but also in other relationships like mother and child

28 n Thank you for paying attention

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