Do you find your emotions impossible to name and describe sometimes? You should probably try doing it in a different language! The relationship between words and feelings has been discussed not only in the academia but also in the world of literature. The Bard of Avon reflected on it in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, sociolinguists keep reflecting on it today.
Are all our emotions primal and prior to language? Or maybe we feel things because we have learned to name them before? Finally, what do we really mean when we talk about emotions in different languages? Is English fear the same as German Angst? Do the Vietnamese and Chechens feel the same kind of anger? Studies show that people of different origins sometimes conceptualize even the most basic emotions in different ways. This is why learning foreign languages helps us stimulate and better understand our inner world. After all, who has never felt the famous Portuguese saudade? We just didn’t know how to name it!
The author of today’s video claims that words may not create feelings, but they most certainly deepen and clarify them. It is a fascinating quality of every language that underlies the power of literature. Would you agree?
By Magdalena Sikorska, Schuman Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit.