Publication details [#6090]

Huang, Shuanfan. 2002. Tsou is different: A cognitive perspective on language, emotion, and body. Cognitive Linguistics 13 (2) : 167–186. 20 pp.


Three cultural models for discourses on emotion are distinguished: the metaphorical model, the metonymic model, and the grammatical model. The purpose of this article is to examine the grammatical model that speakers of Tsou use when talking about emotions, with particular reference to emotional expressions involving body parts and bodily action. It is argued that Tsou differs significantly from English and Chinese in that the metaphorical way of talking about emotions, which is the preferred strategy for English, and the metonymic way of talking about emotions, which is the preferred strategy for Chinese, are generally dispreferred or simply unavailable. Tsou is shown to be a type of "macro-event" language in which the causal event antecedent to the onset of emotion is conceptualized as an integral part of the lexicalized emotion verb concept. This grammatical prefixation model, the preferred strategy for Tsou, makes it possible, indeed necessary, to conceptualize bodily actions and emotions as being more intimately intertwined, part of an integrated emotion concept, in a way that a non-macro-event language, such as English, seems inherently less capable of. Given the grammatical prefixation strategy, it seems eminently plausible to make the experimentally testable claim that Tsou speakers should be more sensitive to the co-presence of emotion and action, and that the core of an emotion, to Tsou speakers, is not simply a psychological state or process, but a readiness to act in a certain way, the acts being coded in the language with the prefixes for bodily actions. (Shuanfan Huang)