Emotions across Languages and Cultures: Diversity and Universals

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In this ground-breaking book, Anna Wierzbicka brings psychological, anthropological and lingusitic insights to bear on our understanding of the way emotions are expressed and experienced in different cultures, languages, and 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. This book will be invaluable to academics and students of emotion across the social sciences.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

List of figures
List of abbreviations
1 Introduction: feelings, languages, and cultures 1
1 Emotions or feelings? 1
2 Breaking the "hermeneutical circle" 7
3 "Experience-near" and "experience-distant" concepts 10
4 Describing feelings through prototypes 12
5 "Emotions": disruptive episodes or vital forces that mould our lives? 17
6 Why words matter 24
7 Emotion and culture 31
8 The Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) as a tool for cross-cultural analysis 34
9 An illustration: "sadness" in English and in Russian 38
10 The scope of this book 45
2 Defining emotion concepts: discovering "cognitive scenarios" 49
1 "Something good happened" and related concepts 50
2 "Something bad happened" and related concepts 60
3 "Bad things can happen" and related concepts 72
4 "I don't want things like this to happen" and related concepts 87
5 Thinking about other people 97
6 Thinking about ourselves 108
7 Concluding remarks 121
3 A case study of emotion in culture: German Angst 123
1 "Angst" as a peculiarly German concept 123
2 Heidegger's analysis of "Angst" 126
3 "Angst" in the language of psychology 128
4 Angst in everyday language 130
5 Defining Angst 134
6 The German Angst in a comparative perspective 137
7 Luther's influence on the German language 139
8 Eschatological anxieties of Luther's times 141
9 The meaning of Angst in Luther's writings 143
10 Martin Luther's inner life and its possible impact on the history of Angst 148
11 Luther's possible role in the shift from Angst "affliction" to Angst "anxiety/fear" 151
12 The great social and economic anxieties of Luther's times 158
13 Uncertainty vs. certainty, Angst vs. Sicherheit 159
14 Certainty and Ordnung 163
15 Conclusion 166
4 Reading human faces 168
1 The human face: a "mirror" or a "tool?" 168
2 From the "psychology of facial expression" to the "semantics of facial expression" 172
3 "Social" does not mean "voluntary" 175
4 What kind of "messages" can a face transmit? 177
5 Messages are not "dimensions" 178
6 "The face alone" or "the face in context"? 180
7 Analysing facial behaviour into meaningful components 182
8 Summing up the assumptions 185
9 In what terms should facial behaviour be described? 186
10 Humans and primates: a unified framework for verbal, non-verbal, and preverbal communication 191
11 The meaning of eyebrows drawn together 195
12 The meaning of "raised eyebrows" 201
13 The meaning of the "wide open eyes" (with immobile eyebrows) 206
14 The meaning of a down-turned mouth 208
15 The meaning of tightly pressed lips 211
16 Conclusion: the what, the how, and the why in the reading of human faces 213
5 Russian emotional expression 216
1 Introduction 216
2 Emotion and the body 219
3 Conclusion 234
6 Comparing emotional norms across languages and cultures: Polish vs. Anglo-American 240
1 Emotion and culture 240
2 The scripts of "sincerity" 241
3 The scripts of interpersonal "warmth" 251
4 The scripts of "spontaneity" 255
5 Conclusion 271
7 Emotional universals 273
1 "Emotional universals" - genuine and spurious 273
2 A proposed set of "emotional universals" 275
3 Conclusion 305
Notes 308
References 318
Index 338
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