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Emotions across Languages and Cultures
Diversity and Universals


Part of Studies in Emotion and Social Interaction

  • Date Published: November 1999
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521590426

£ 88.00

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About the Authors
  • In this fascinating book, Anna Wierzbicka brings psychological, anthropological and linguistic insights to bear on our understanding of the way emotions are expressed and experienced in different cultures, languages, and culturally-shaped social relations. The expression of emotion in the face, body and modes of speech are all explored and Wierzbicka shows how the bodily expression of emotion varies across cultures and challenges traditional approaches to the study of facial expressions. As well as offering a perspective on human emotions based on the analysis of language and ways of talking about emotion, this intriguing and controversial book attempts to identify universals of human emotion by analysing empirical evidence from different languages and cultures. This book will be invaluable to academics and students of emotion across the social sciences.

    • Interdisciplinary synthesis of studies and findings about emotion
    • Was the first book to integrate universal traits of emotional expression with studies of cultural and linguistic diversity of emotional expression
    • Offers an alternative perspective, based on analysis of language and ways of talking about emotions
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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 1999
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521590426
    • length: 362 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 24 mm
    • weight: 0.7kg
    • contains: 8 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Feelings, Languages and Cultures:
    1. Emotions or feelings?
    2. Breaking the 'hermeneutical circle'
    3. 'Experience-near' and 'experience-distant' concepts
    4. Describing feelings through prototypes
    5. 'Emotions': disruptive episodes or vital forces that mould our lives?
    6. Why words matter
    7. Emotion and culture
    8. The Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) as a tool for cross-cultural analysis
    9. An illustration: 'sadness' in English and in Russian
    10. The scope of this book
    Part II. Defining Emotion Concepts: Discovering 'Cognitive Scenarios':
    1. 'Something good happened' and related concepts
    2. 'Something bad happened' and related concepts
    3. 'Bad things can happen' and related concepts
    4. 'I don't want things like this to happen' and related concepts
    5. Thinking about 'someone else'
    6. Thinking about ourselves
    7. Concluding remarks
    Part III. A Case Study of Emotion in Culture: German 'Angst':
    1. Angst as a peculiarly German concept
    2. Heidegger's analysis of angst
    3. Angst in the language of psychology
    4. Angst in everyday language
    5. Defining angst
    6. The German angst in a comparative perspective
    7. Luther's influence on the German language
    8. Eschatological anxieties of Luther's times
    9. The meaning of angst in Luther's writings
    10. Martin Luther's inner life and its possible impact on the history of angst
    11. Luther's possible role in the shift from angst 'affliction' to angst 'anxiety/fear'
    12. The great social and economic anxieties of Luther's times
    13. Uncertainty vs certainty, angst vs sicherheit
    14. Certainty and ordnung
    15. Conclusion
    Part IV. Reading Human Faces:
    1. The human face: a 'mirror' or a 'tool'
    2. From the 'psychology of facial expression' to the 'semantics of facial expression'
    3. 'Social' does not mean 'voluntary'
    4. What kind of 'messages' can a face transmit?
    5. Messages are not 'dimensions'
    6. 'The face alone' or 'the face in context'?
    7. Analyzing facial behaviour into meaningful components
    8. Summing up the assumptions
    9. In what terms should facial behaviour be described?
    10. Humans and primates: a unified framework for verbal, non-verbal, and preverbal communication
    11. The meaning of eyebrows drawn together
    12. The meaning of 'raised eyebrows'
    13. The meaning of the 'wide open eyes' (with immobile eyebrows)
    14. The meaning of a turned down mouth
    15. The meaning of tightly pressed lips
    16. Conclusion: the what, the how, and the why in reading human faces
    Part V. Russian Emotional Expression:
    1. Introduction
    2. Emotion and the body
    3. Conclusion
    Part VI. Comparing Emotional Norms across Languages and Cultures: Polish vs Anglo-American:
    1. Emotion and culture
    2. The scripts of 'sincerity'
    3. The scripts of interpersonal 'warmth'
    4. The scripts of 'spontaneity'
    5. Conclusion
    Part VII. Emotional Universals:
    1. 'Emotional universals' - genuine and spurious
    2. A proposed set of 'emotional universals'
    3. Conclusion
    Further reading

  • Author

    Anna Wierzbicka, Australian National University, Canberra

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