THE LANGUAGE OF EMOTION

IN ENGLISH AND PORTUGUESE

 - A CORPORA-BASED APPROACH

by Belinda Maia

PLEASE NOTE:

This is NOT the original thesis (1994), but a revised version done in 1996, and adapted in 2004 to .html format.  It is impossible to retrieve the 1994 digital version now but, if anyone is remotely interested in what I did ten years ago, the revised version should be easier to read.

The following summary was written in 2004 with the benefit of hindsight and a better understanding of the (ir?) relevance of what I was trying to do at the time.

SUMMARY

This thesis looks at the way the emotion words in English and Portuguese behave lexically, syntactically and semantically.  The Brain/Mind debate was in full swing when the thesis was written and the first three chapters deal with various aspects of this debate and how it affects - and is affected by  - the whole area of emotion. The objective of the linguistic analysis in the following chapters was to see how actual usage of these words in context gives us clues as to how we conceptualise emotion through language. At the time, seeking for evidence of how we conceptualize by examining linguistic items in corpora was not popular in mainstream linguistics, but today, as a result of movements within cognitive linguistics and further sophistication of corpora linguistics, such an objective would not seem  unusual.

The process involved collecting words  that could be considered as describing emotion in any way from corpora, examining them through concordancing, and classifying them according to several parameters.  A general view of the area was obtained using the COBUILD corpus in Birmingham, and using a much larger corpus than that on which the thesis results are based,  proved very useful.  However, for copyright reasons, I was obliged to make my own corpora of literary texts: about 778,650 words were digitalized for  English and about 819,500 for Portuguese.  From these corpora about 25,000 examples were extracted and analysed. 

The lexical items were grouped according to the cognitive structure of the emotions described by Ortony, Clore & Collins (1998:19).  Although it is possible to recognize the concepts behind their categories, some categories are not lexicalized in English or Portuguese.  On the other hand, SURPRISE, which they do not recognize as an emotion, turned out to be similar in semantic structure linguistically, and the generic words for emotion, like feeling and sentimento, also merited our attention.  We recognize that emotional states can be described without using the emotion lexicon - for example, by describing body language - but this type of analysis was beyond the scope of our thesis.

Each lexical item was extracted with the related sentence from the corpus and classified according to parts-of-speech categorization and also according to its semantic role.  Using Halliday's terminology of Senser for the person who feels emotion - as with frightened - and Phenomenon for what is seen to cause or trigger the emotion - as with  frightening, all lexical items were classified as Senser focusing (SFoc) or Phenomenon focusing (PFoc).  The lexicon was then examined and quantified as to how the items behaved when analysed using functional sentence analysis and other syntactic criteria, with a view to demonstrating  the influence of semantics on syntax. The emotion lexicon accepts and rejects certain types of syntax quite clearly.

Finally, since the emotion lexicon behaves in ways that overlap with verbs of cognition, and the Mind/Brain debate essentially focuses the relationship of emotion to the way human beings understand the world, each Phenomenon was classified according to the degree to which the Senser consciously reasoned about the Phenomenon in the sentence or, whenever possible, the context.

This multi-level analysis produced results which we hope you may find interesting. Despite the apparent inadequacy of the  corpora and their literary content, we were able to discern some patterns that could now merit further investigation. As was to be expected, the two languages varied most at the level of the lexicon.  The semantic aspects of the syntax also showed some interesting differences that hint at underlying cultural differences that, as a late bilingual, I had always felt existed.  However, the deeper semantic analysis of the Senser and Phenomenon focused items and the analysis of the degree of conscious reasoning about the Phenomenon by the Senser resulted in remarkably similar results for both languages.  Whether this demonstrates anything more universal about the underlying cognitive apparatus with which the two languages conceptualize emotion is something that can only gain credibility if the same exercise is repeated with more representative corpora in both these and other languages.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS                                                                                     

PREFACE                                                                                                                 

  • 0.1   Keywords                                                                                                           

  • 0.2  The Language of Emotion as a subject for study                                                    

  • 0.3  The use of electronic corpora                                                                            

  • 0.4  The Texts                                                                                                            

  • 0.5  Key to Abbreviations and Printing Conventions in the Text                             

CHAPTER 1.   EMOTION - A CONTROVERSIAL SUBJECT

  • 1.1   Introduction                                                                                                         

  • 1.2  The Mind-Brain debate                                                                                         

  • 1.3  The Brain                                                                                                            

  • 1.3.1  The Brain as the motor of communication                                                           

  • 1.3.2  The Brain and emotion                                                                                     

  • 1.4  The Mind and the Self                                                                                        

  • 1.4.1  Popper and Eccles (1987) - Interactionism                                               

  • 1.4.2  Scientifically orientated theories about the Self                                        

  • 1.4.3  Psychoanalytical theories of Self                                                         

  • 1.5  Artificial Intelligence and the Mind-Brain debate                                        

  • 1.6  Physics and the Mind-Brain debate                                                                       

  • 1.7  The implications of the Mind-Brain debate for emotion                                         

 CHAPTER 2.  THE EMOTIONS AS PHENOMENA                                           

  • 2.1  Defining emotion                                                                                                  

  • 2.2  Emotion before Psychology                                                                                   

  • 2.3  Psychology and Emotion                                                                                       

  • 2.3.1  The Physiology of Emotion                                                                                 

  • 2.4  Cognition and Emotion                                                                                          

  • 2.5  Cognitivism and linguistics                                                                        

  • 2.6  The implications of Cognitivism for Emotion                                                       

CHAPTER 3.  CONCEPTUALISATION AND EMOTION

  • 3.1  Introduction                                                                                                 

  • 3.2  Conceptualization - universals and relativism                                           

  • 3.2.1  The Platonic and Aristotelian traditions                                    

  • 3.2.2  Language Relativism since the 18th century                                       

  • 3.3  The relationship between philosophy and linguistics in the 20th century             

  • 3.3.1  Linguistics as a reflection of Anglo-Saxon philosophical attitudes to conceptualization in the 20th century                                                    

  • 3.3.2  The contribution of 20th century philosophy and literary theory to language relativism                                                                                 

  • 3.4  Folk wisdom and conceptualization                                                               

  • 3.4.1  Folk wisdom on Emotion                                                                          

  • 3.4.2  The validity of folk wisdom                           

  • 3.5  Linguistics and conceptualization                                

  • 3.5.1  Lexical semantics                                                                      

  • 3.5.2  Semantics and Syntax                                                                        

  • 3.6  The multi-level approach                                                                                

CHAPTER 4.  THE LEXICAL EXPRESSION OF EMOTION

  • 4.1  Introduction     

  • 4.2  The Lexical Categorisation of Emotions  

  • 4.2.1  Basic emotions   

  • 4.3  Lexicons and the lexicology of Emotion 

  • 4.3.1  Davitz (1969) :  a psychologist’s analysis

  • 4.3.2  Fillenbaum and Rapoport (1971) : subjectivity and Emotion

  • 4.3.3  Lakoff and Johnson  (1980) and Lakoff and Kövecses (1987) 

  • 4.3.4  Wierzbicka (1972 and 1992)  : on how to define Emotion

  • 4.3.5  Johnson-Laird and Oatley (1989) : a Cognitive lexicon which assumes basic emotions

  • 4.3.6  Ortony, Clore and Collins (1988) : a Cognitive analysis of the emotions as valenced reaction 

  • 4.3.7  An appraisal of the different approaches

  • 4.4  The differences between emotion and Emotion words

  • 4.5  Lexical categories of Emotion to be examined 

  • 4.5.1  An adaptation of the Emotion types proposed by Ortony et al.

  • 4.5.2  Other classes of Emotion

  • 4.5.3  General comments on methodology

CHAPTER 5.  SEMANTIC ASPECTS OF EMOTION           

  • 5.1  Introduction

  • 5.2  The Semantics of SENSER and the PHENOMENON of Emotion

  • 5.2.1  Deep Case Theory and Emotion

  • 5.2.2  The analysis of SENSER and PHENOMENON in the corpora

  • 5.3  The Semantics of the Verbs of Emotion

  • 5.3.1  Semantic classifications of verbs and their relevance to Emotion

  • 5.3.2  The SENSER / PHENOMENON focusing distinction, and the classification of verbs of Emotion

CHAPTER 6.  SENTENCE PATTERNS AND THE VERB PHRASE OF EMOTION

  • 6.1  Introduction

  • 6.2  Basic Sentence Patterns

  • 6.3  Prepositions and their complementation 

  • 6.4  SP sentences

  • 6.5  SPCs sentences

  • 6.5.1  Copulas

  • 6.5.2  SFoc Adjectives + Complementation

  • 6.5.3  PFoc adjectives and Extraposition 

  • 6.6  SPCp sentences

  • 6.7  SPOd sentences

  • 6.7.1  SPOi sentences in Portuguese

  • 6.7.2  SPOd sentences and Extrapostion

  • 6.8.  SPOO, SPOC and SPOdA sentences 

  • 6.8.1  The SPOCo and SPOdA sentences

  • 6.8.2  The SPOd, SPOdCo and SPOO patterns and syntactic and semantic

  • gradients

  • 6.9  Syntactic clues to degrees of conscious evaluation with Emotion

CHAPTER 7.  THE VERB PHRASE OF EMOTION -SYNTACTIC RESTRICTIONS

  • 7.1  Introduction

  • 7.2  Tense and Aspect with Emotion

  • 7.2.1  The Progressive Aspect with verbs of Emotion

  • 7.2.2  Non-finite -ING / -NDO clauses with verbs of Emotion

  • 7.2.3  The Perfective Aspect with verbs of Emotion

  • 7.3  The Imperative and Emotion

  • 7.4  PFoc verbs and their limitations with the Progressive and Imperative

  • 7.5  Auxiliaries, Modals and Emotion

  • 7.5.1  Auxiliary verbs and Emotion

  • 7.5.2  The Modal verbs and Emotion

  • 7.5.3  Can a lexical verb be modal? 

  • 7.6  Passivization and SFoc verbs 

  • 7.7  Emotion, adjectives/past participles, and the Passive

  • 7.7.1  The Morphology of the adjective in English and Portuguese

  • 7.7.2  The syntax of the adjective in English and Portuguese

  • 7.7.3  The Passive gradient 

  • 7.7.4  The semantic importance of the Copula + adjective/past participle structure

  • 7.8  Emotion and the VERB + -SE construction in Portuguese

  • 7.8.1  The PFoc verb + -SE - analysed at a deep level

  • 7.8.1  The PFoc verb + -SE - analysed at a surface level

  • 7.8.3  The SFoc verb + -SE

  • 7.8.4  A perspective based on the corpora

  • 7.9  Adverbs of Emotion

CHAPTER 8.  THE SEMANTICS AND SYNTAX OF NOUNS OF EMOTION

  • 8.1  Introduction

  • 8.2  The countability / non-countability of nouns of Emotion 

  • 8.2.1  Emotion as a Concept or Nominal Term

  • 8.2.2  Emotion nouns as Subject of the sentence

  • 8.2.3  Emotion as a Relation

  • 8.2.4  Emotion nouns as Instances

  • 8.2.5  Emotion nouns as Mass Terms

  • 8.2.6  The fuzziness of Emotion nouns as Instances and Mass terms

  • 8.3  A perspective based on the corpora 

  • 8.3.1  The problem of countability

  • 8.3.2  The complementation of nouns

  • 8.3.3  The behaviour of Emotion nouns in adverbial phrases

  • 8.3.4  The possessive pronoun and the nouns of Emotion

  • 8.4  Ter and nouns of Emotion

CHAPTER 9.  THE LINGUISTIC BEHAVIOUR OF THE REACTION TO EVENTS LEXICON

  • 9.1  Introduction

  • 9.2  Reactions to Events - Fortunes-of-Self

  • 9.3  The Joy Group

  • 9.3.1  The Joy lexicon

  • 9.3.2  The semantics and syntax of the Joy lexicon

  • 9.3.3  A Linguistic profile of the Joy Group

  • 9.4  The Distress Group

  • 9.4.1  The Distress lexicon

  • 9.4.2  The semantics and syntax of the Distress lexicon

  • 9.4.3  A Linguistic profile of Distress

  • 9.5  Reactions to Events - Fortunes-of-others

  • 9.6  The Happy For Group

  • 9.7  The Resentment Group

  • 9.7.1  The Resentment lexicon

  • 9.7.2  The semantics and syntax of Resentment

  • 9.7.3  A Linguistic profile of Resentment

  • 9.8  The Gloating Group

  • 9.9  The Sorry For Group

  • 9.9.1  The Sorry For lexicon

  • 9.9.2  The syntax and semantics of Sorry For

  • 9.9.3  A Linguistic profile of Sorry For

CHAPTER 10.  THE LINGUISTIC BEHAVIOUR OF THE PROSPECT-BASED REACTIONS TO EVENTS LEXICON

  • 10.1  Prospect-based Reactions to Events

  • 10.2  The Hope Group

  • 10.2.1  The Hope lexicon

  • 10.2.2  The semantics and syntax of Hope

  • 10.2.3  A Linguistic profile of Hope

  • 10.3  The Fear Group

  • 10.3.1  The lexicon of Fear

  • 10.3.2  The semantics and syntax of Fear

  • 10.3.3  A Linguistic profile of Fear

  • 10.4  The Satisfaction Group

  • 10.4.1  The lexicon of Satisfaction

  • 10.4.2  The semantics and syntax of Satisfaction

  • 10.5  The Fears-confirmed group

  • 10.6  The Relief group

  • 10.6.1  The lexicon of Relief 

  • 10.6.2  The semantics and syntax and general profile of Relief

  • 10.7  The Disppointment group

  • 10.7.1  The lexicon of Disappointment

  • 10.7.2  The semantics and syntax of Disappointment

  • 10.7.3  A Linguistic profile of Disappointment

CHAPTER 11.  THE LINGUISTIC BEHAVIOUR OF THE REACTIONS TO AGENTS LEXICON

  • 11.1  Reactions to Agents - Evaluative emotions

  • 11.2  The Pride / Gratification group

  • 11.2.1  The lexicon of Pride /Gratification

  • 11.2.2  The semantics and syntax of Pride / Gratification

  • 11.2.3  A Linguistic profile of Pride / Gratification

  • 11.3  The self-Reproach / Remorse group

  • 11.3.1  The lexicon of Self-Reproach / Remorse

  • 11.3.2  The semantics and syntax of Self-Reproach / Remorse

  • 11.3.3  A linguistic profile of Self-Reproach / Remorse

  • 11.4  The Appreciation group

  • 11.4.1  The lexicon of Appreciation

  • 11.4.2  The semantics and syntax of Appreciation

  • 11.4.3  A Linguistic profile of Appreciation 

  • 11.5  The Reproach group

  • 11.5.1  The lexicon of the Reproach group

  • 11.5.2  The semantics and syntax of the Reproach group

  • 11.5.3  A Linguistic profile of Reproach 

  • 11.6  The Gratitude group

  • 11.6.1  The lexicon of Gratitude 

  • 11.6.2  The semantics and syntax of Gratitude

  • 11.6.3  A linguistic profile of Gratitude

  • 11.7  The Anger group 

  • 11.7.1  The lexicon of Anger 

  • 11.7.2  The semantics and syntax of Anger 

  • 11.7.3  A Linguistic profile of Anger 

CHAPTER 12.  THE LINGUISTIC BEHAVIOUR OF THE REACTION TO OBJECTS LEXICON

  • 12.1  Reaction to Objects - the Attraction emotions

  • 12.2  The Liking group

  • 12.2.1  The lexicon of Liking

  • 12.2.2  The semantics and syntax of Liking  

  • 12.2.3  A Linguistic profile of Liking 

  • 12.3  The Dislikinig Group 

  • 12.3.1  The lexicon of Disliking 

  • 12.3.2  The semantics and syntax of Disliking 

  • 12.3.3  A Linguistic profile of Disliking

CHAPTER 13.  THE LINGUISTIC BEHAVIOUR OF OTHER CATEGORIES OF EMOTION LEXICONS

  • 13.1  Other categories

  • 13.2  The Generic lexemes of Emotion                                                        

  • 13.2.1  The lexicon of Generic lexemes for Emotion 

  • 13.2.2  The semantics and syntax of the Generic lexicon

  • 13.2.3  A Linguistic profile of the Generic lexicon

  • 13.3  The Surprise group

  • 13.3.1  The lexicon of Surprise

  • 13.3.2  The semantics and syntax of Surprise 

  • 13.3.3  A Linguistic profile of Surprise

  • 13.4  The Desire group

  • 13.4.1  The lexicon of Desire

  • 13.4.2  The semantics and syntax of Desire  

  • 13.4.3  A linguistic profile of Desire 

CHAPTER 14.  COMMENT

  • 14.1  General Problems

  • 14.2  Linguistic indicators of the Universal / Relativist positions

  • 14.3  The Fragility of Linguistic metalanguage

  • 14.4  Language and the psychology of the emotions

  • 14.5  Will Artificial Intelligence ever experience emotion?                                                              

BIBLIOGRAPHY