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Auteur: Paul WILSON

Co-Auteur(s): Barbara LEWANDOWSKA-TOMASZCZYK, University of Lodz, Poland

A Contrastive Analysis of Shame and Guilt in English and Polish

Abstract/Résumé: The GRID instrument (Scherer, 2005) and the corpus methodology were used in a contrastive study comparing the conceptualisations of British English shame and guilt with those of their respective Polish counterparts, wstyd and wina. Consistent with expectations based on other studies (e.g., Ogarkova, Soriano & Lehr, 2012) and on the relatively more individualistic British culture versus the relatively more collectivistic Polish culture, the GRID results produced a trend showing that norm transgression was conceptualised by the British participants more as guilt and by the Polish participants more as shame. Other findings showing more helpless and withdrawal features associated with wstyd in comparison with shame, and the greater distinction between wstyd and wina than between shame and guilt in terms of predictability and social engagement versus withdrawal, are consistent with the comparison between the relatively more individualistic British “guilt” culture, in which shame involves relatively more guilt features, and the “typical” shame that is present in the relatively more collectivistic Polish culture (Wallbott and Scherer, 1995). The finding that shame is more unpredictable than wstyd can be explained in terms of shame being a less commonly experienced emotion in British English due to the predominance of guilt. To support the GRID results with authentic language data, a thorough linguistic analysis of selected Polish and English corpus materials (National Corpus of Polish and British National Corpus) was carried out, based on 1000-word, automatically generated (WS tools) samples for English shame* and guilt*, and Polish wstyd*, while in the case of Polish wina, manual data extraction was performed due to its polysemy. The frequencies obtained were then normalised for 100 million words. A comparison of the frequency counts shows an interesting regularity - lower frequencies for the English emotions, and a cross-linguistic regularity of the word discourse typology status, which reveals their higher incidence in written language than in speech. The next step in the analysis covers collocational and distribution patterns of the terms and their occurrence in emotion clusters (Lewandowska-Tomaszczyk and Wilson, in press). The corpus analysis of the materials and their cognitively-based discourse findings provide support for the claims and results presented in the analysis involving the GRID methodology.