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Auteur: Clara MOLINA

Co-Auteur(s): Alejandra HURTADO DE MENDOZA, Georgetown University, USA Jose Miguel FERNANDEZ DOLS, Universidad Autonoma Madrid, Spain

Integrating psychological and lexicographic insights into the research of emotion concepts

Abstract/Résumé: Claiming translation equivalence for emotion terms is a widespread practice within psychological and anthropological enquiries into emotion. However, a growing body of evidence reveals a radical flaw in such practice, since one-to-one translations cannot fully convey the meaning import conveyed by a term. This is something lexicographers have known for long, even if linguistics has often lacked sound proof for some of the claims put forward. This paper presents an integration of psychological and linguistic insights into a pair of emotion terms (English shame and Spanish vergüenza) and it demonstrates how lexicography can be used by social psychologists to address issues of cultural difference, cultural change and translation. An encyclopedic perspective guides our analysis of synchronic and diachronic dictionary definitions for the two terms under inspection. While synchronic dictionaries relate both shame and vergüenza to a number of similar features (such as DISHONOR/HUMILIATION and SHAMING), some other features are either linked to vergüenza (HONOR/DIGNITY and MODESTY) or shame (GUILT). Diachronic dictionaries illustrate the process by means of which both terms became polarized with given features: nuances such as MODESTY (now only present in the lexicographic description of vergüenza) are historically related to shame, but it lost relevance within the English category over time, while other features (such as GUILT) increased their salience within shame over time. Our analysis reveals the reasons underlying the modern difference between both terms, which we believe to be of methodological import: most cultural research in psychology is synchronic because of the difficulties posed by longitudinal research, but the etymological technique used in our paper shows one way in which psychologists can compare cultures diachronically. Thus, our work contributes to social psychological knowledge about vergüenza and shame, as well as to the methodology for studying concepts within and between cultures. Our results suggests that emotion concepts are probabilistic, flexible and mutable, since the emergence and loss of features (and of the relative salience of these) change over time, making shame and vergüenza present different degrees of overlap throughout history. In our presentation, a number of implications in relation to the practice of one-to-one translations in cross-cultural research on emotion concepts will also be discussed, together with new developments in the representation of concepts using social network analysis tools, useful for both psychologists and linguists.