From Motion to Emotion

Aspects of Physical and Cultural Embodiment in Language

by Marek Kuźniak (Volume editor) Bożena Rozwadowska (Volume editor) Michał Szawerna (Volume editor)
©2016 Edited Collection 292 Pages
Series: Łódź Studies in Language, Volume 45


This volume has its origins in an international conference on emotions organized by the Polish Association for the Study of English and held at the University of Wrocław in April 2015. In the course of the conference, it became clear that emotions are productively explored with relation to motion for the reason that emotion(s) and motion(s) constitute profoundly intertwined dimensions of physical and cultural embodiment reflected in language. The relationship between motion(s) and emotion(s) became the underlying theme of this volume, which comprises nineteen contributions presenting exploratory and applicative accounts of (e)motion(s) situated in topical research areas of linguistic theory, second language acquisition, and translation studies.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction: From motion to emotion
  • The puzzle of psychological verbs: (Why) are emotion verbs grammatically special?
  • Repulsion, filth, and sickness: Metaphorical conceptualizations of disgust in English and Polish
  • The influence of students’ foreign language anxiety on their choice of pronunciation learning strategies and their results in learning pronunciation
  • Self-confidence in the classroom
  • The mastery of communication in the bilingual classroom
  • Emotions involved in coping with demanding subjects in the English philology course of studies: A student perspective
  • Teachers’ perceptions of the use of motivational strategies in the Polish EFL context
  • Anxiety as an important factor in producing high-quality translations
  • Reference tools in legal translation: Fostering translators’ self-confidence through dictionaries and corpora
  • Translating emotions: A cognitive semantic analysis of Stanisław Barańczak’s Polish translation of “Love Songs in Age” by Philip Larkin
  • Lost belongingness? Implications of audience expectations and preferences on re-creating culture in audiovisual translation
  • Difficulties and translation techniques in Polish-English-Russian doctor-patient communication on the basis of otolaryngology from the perspective of the translator/interpreter
  • Linguistic features of persuasion used by MPs in parliamentary debates
  • Translating loaded language in the EU: Political Discourse Analysis meets News Translation
  • Sentiment analysis of proverbs in American discourse: A corpus-based study
  • Figurative emotional expression in popular science headlines
  • Literary elements and emotions in specialised medical publications
  • Emotions in the language of the Internet: A cognitive grammar perspective on internet fora emoticons
  • Cumulative representations of diegetic motion events in comics: A linguistic analysis

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Marek Kuźniak, Bożena Rozwadowska, Michał Szawerna

Introduction: From motion to emotion

Motion(s) and emotion(s) may be viewed as aspects of bodily and cultural entrenchment reflected in language. This implicates both figurative and literal understanding of motion(s) and emotion(s) as often intertwined phenomena. As emphasized by Fontaine, Scherer & Soriano (2013), understanding the meaning of emotion terms is a shared interest across the different disciplines that study emotions, such as psychology, linguistics, cultural anthropology, sociology, history and multidisciplinary cross-cultural research.

Among the issues traditionally studied by emotion theorists from the philosophical, psychological and socio-cultural perspectives are questions about how particular types of emotional experience (e.g., pain/pleasure, attachment-related affect, moral affect) arise and how the various types of feelings or emotional experiences interact with the motor systems (which produce actions, action tendencies or states of action readiness, and motoric expression of emotion, both verbal and non-verbal), central and peripheral physiological arousal systems, as well as attentional and memory systems (Koelsch et al. 2015; Moors 2009). Moreover, since emotion involves conscious cognitive appraisal, language plays a crucial role in eliciting emotional feelings as well as in their regulation, expression and communication. Both this complex interaction and the role of language in it are precisely the heart of this volume.

Consistently then, the presented themes range across a spectrum of linguistic fields to encapsulate both exploratory and applicative accounts of abstract (e)motion(s), while at the same time ‘moving on’ to the point where motion(s) and emotion(s) are considered more as tangible domains of human locutory engagement in the external world.

Two papers in this volume, the one by Bożena Rozwadowska and Ewa Willim and the one by Marcin Kuczok, focus on the interpretation of linguistic expressions used to refer to emotions. Guided by exploratory concerns, Rozwadowska and Willim relate the language of emotions to the complexity of emotions themselves, which has been demonstrated in other research areas. They also investigate the question whether verbs expressing emotions are grammatically special or not and review the current debate on this issue. Kuczok adopts a perspective that is at once applicative and exploratory as he identifies the metaphors of DISGUST in English and Polish on the basis of data retrieved from language corpora and then goes on to discuss the similarities and differences in the ways these metaphors are conventionally encoded in the expressive resources of the two languages.

There are a number of papers in this collection which deal with the role of emotions in second language learning and teaching strategies. Katarzyna Rokoszewska presents an empirical study on the influence of students’ foreign language anxiety ← 7 | 8 → on their choice of pronunciation learning strategies and their results in learning pronunciation. Małgorzata Serafin studies the influence of learners’ self-confidence on second language acquisition. Maria Rosario Pastor Martinez analyses the Process Communication Model as a tool that enables teachers to have a deep insight into their students’ personality profiles by identifying their necessities, feelings and emotions and thus helps teachers to communicate with their students in a more effective way. Elżbieta Krawczyk-Neifar discusses the results of her research into the emotions experienced by students of English and Chinese as they are coping with demanding courses and suggests that there is no correlation between the level of difficulty attributed to a language by its learners and the amount, type, and intensity of the emotions the language evokes in them. Finally, Anna Klimas reports on her study of the ways in which Polish teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) motivate their students and concludes that while Polish EFL teachers regularly implement a variety of motivational strategies, they need to double their efforts to foster their students’ learner autonomy.

Emotions can also be the focus of attention in translation studies. Monika Szela presents a small-scale experiment whose aim was to study the influence of negative emotions, such as anxiety, on the quality of translation. Along similar lines, Mariusz Kamiński undertakes the aspects of translation performance, but does it on the grounds of exploring the correlations between translators’ self-confidence and quality. He uses R package for statistical analysis to advance the argument. Katarzyna Filipowska, on the other hand, analyses how the translation of emotions can be best rendered in poetic texts with the aid of selected cognitive-linguistic apparatus synthesised in Langacker’s notion of construal. Olga Łabendowicz reflects on the emotionally imbued receptive factors manifested by the audience as feedback to culture re-creation efforts in the process of audiovisual translation. Last but not least, Magda Żelazowska and Magdalena Zabielska discuss the difficulties faced by translators and interpreters who mediate in intercultural doctor-patient communication, which requires not only linguistic skills, but also empathy, understanding, and patience.

Emotions can also be viewed as intermingled with the pragmatics of discourse. Anna Kuzio, for example, discusses various persuasive techniques employed in highly emotional parliamentary discourse. The issue of political language is also taken up by Jessica Mariani, who argues in favour of strong structural links between Political Discourse Analysis and News Translation, mediated via the European Parliament Press Service Translation Policy as the platform for interdisciplinary encounters. Maja Gwóźdź, opts, in turn, for seeing American proverbs as elements of highly emotive discourse context, which she proves empirically through recourse to the COHA and the COCA. The discursive strand of research into the linguistic expression of emotions is also exemplified by the contributions to this volume from Katarzyna Molek-Kozakowska and Magdalena Zabielska. Molek-Kozakowska shows how scientific research and discovery are misrepresented via figuration in popular science headlines, which are continuously trying to grab the attention of the reading audience by portraying scientific endeavor in an overly emotional manner. In ← 8 | 9 → turn, Zabielska explores literary elements in texts published in medical journals and demonstrates that such elements make it possible for doctors and patients alike to highlight the emotional dimension of their experience, which is altogether absent from the purely factual reports making up the bulk of specialized medical literature.

Two contributors to this volume, Aleksandra Pasławska and Michał Szawerna, take up topics which transcend the problem of the purely linguistic expression of (e)motion(s). Pasławska explores the interface of linguistic and visual communication by offering a cognitive-semiotic account of the pictorial signs, referred to as emoticons, which are used in computer-mediated communication to confer an emotive tone on the textual messages they co-occur with. Pasławska accounts for this function of emoticons in a model which combines the current discourse space with a conceptual integration network. Adopting a cross-modal perspective not unlike the one taken by Pasławska, Szawerna examines two kinds of conventional signs belonging to the expressive repertoire of comics, the so-called polyptychal and polymorphic representations of episodic motion events, and demonstrates that their cumulative visual structure constitutes a non-verbal counterpart to the cumulative semantic structure of episodic nouns.


Fontaine, J. J. R., K. R. Scherer, C. Soriano 2013: General introduction: A paradigm for a multidisciplinary investigation of the meaning of emotion terms. In: Fontaine, J. J. R., K. R. Scherer, C. Soriano (eds.) 2013: Components of Emotional Meaning. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1–4.

Koelsch, S, A. M. Jacobs, W. Menninghaus, K. Liebal, G. Klann-Delius, C. von Scheme, G. Gebauer. 2015. The quartet theory of human emotions: An integrative and neurofunctional model. Physics of Life Reviews 13: 1–27.

Moors, A. 2009: Theories of emotion causation: A review. Cognition and Emotion 23, 625–662. ← 9 | 10 →

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Bożena Rozwadowska
University of Wrocław

Ewa Willim
Jagiellonian University in Kraków

The puzzle of psychological verbs: (Why) are emotion verbs grammatically special?1

Abstract: This paper addresses the problem of the special behavior of verbs expressing emotions from the perspective of the complexity of emotions as studied in psychology and philosophy. The evolution of the meaning of the word emotion in English provides the starting point for the discussion of the phenomenon of emotion, whose complexity is then argued to find reflection in language. It is argued that the finer-grained distinctions within the class of verbs encoding affective phenomena based on temporal relations and causativity can help to distinguish between the psychological experiences encoded with SE and OE verbs in English. It is also suggested that nominalizations provide evidence for the prominence of Experiencers as identifiers of psych eventualities, which is correlated with a cognitive imbalance between the Experiencer and the Stimulus. The puzzling properties of psych verbs are thus attributed to the variety of state and event types they describe.

Keywords: psych verbs, emotions, Experiencer, stage-level predicates, individual-level predicates, psych nominalizations

1.  Introduction

Psych(ological) verbs, understood as those that describe emotions and entail a mental state in their Experiencer argument, have been on the research agenda for almost three decades now, because cross-linguistically they have a number of puzzling properties (cf., among others, Pesetsky 1995; Landau 2010). They can be illustrated with such verbs as love, fear, adore, frighten, please, or delight. The property that has received most attention in both generative and cognitive linguistics literature is the variation in their argument realization patterns, which contradicts the assumption that there is a direct and uniform association between thematic (or lexical semantic) structure and morphosyntactic expression. Psych predicates (often referred to as Experiencer predicates) are divided into three classes, depending on the syntactic function of their distinguishing argument, the Experiencer: (i) Subject Experiencer, SE, illustrated with the English verb to fear, (ii) Object Experiencer, OE, illustrated with the English verb to frighten, and (iii) Dative Experiencer, DE, corresponding to the English OE verb to please, or to appeal to. Apart from the mapping problem, ← 11 | 12 → there are other special properties of psych verbs reviewed exhaustively in Landau (2010), including, for example, such properties as: the accusative/dative alternation of the Experiencer argument in Spanish and Italian, overt obliqueness of Experiencers in Navajo, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, the absence of the genitive of negation in Russian, obligatory clitic doubling in Greek, unavailability of verbal passives, backward binding in some languages, the absence of transitive nominalizations based on psych-verbs, and more.

In view of this intriguing psych-phenomenon that continues to puzzle emotion scholars, in this paper we attempt to relate the complexity of the language of emotions to the complexity of the phenomenon of emotions as demonstrated in other areas of scientific inquiry. Our goal is not to solve the puzzles, but to point out that the special character of psych verbs follows from the variety of experiences that can be subsumed under the label emotion.

The paper is structured as follows. In Section 2 we devote some space to the history of the word emotion in English with a view to explaining the reasons why the use of the everyday word emotion in scientific investigations should be the source of confusion and difficulty in defining emotions as a unitary category of mental states in psychology and linguistics. The evolution of the meaning of the word emotion shows that emotions are linked to motion. Interestingly, this connection is reflected in approaches that recognize analogies between abstract concepts related to emotions and spatio-temporal locations. Finally, the recollection of the change of the meaning of this word justifies the title of the present volume. Section 3 focuses on the phenomenon of emotion in the domains where they have been traditionally studied: philosophy and psychology. It also introduces the finer-grained distinctions within the class of affective phenomena contributed by Scherer (2005) to help distinguish between the psychological experiences encoded with SE and OE verbs in English. Section 4 illustrates some special grammatical properties of psychological predicates. Section 5 concludes the paper.

2.  The history of the word emotion in English

According to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (2009), quoted in (1) below, when English speakers talk of emotions, they refer to cognitively and phenomenally distinct affective phenomena.

(1) Emotion (noun&verb). Mid-16th century.
[Origin: French émotion, from émouvoir excite, move the feelings of]:
†1. a public disturbance; a commotion (mid-16th-mid-18th centuries)
†2. a. migration; a change of position (only in 17th century)
b. a physical agitation or disturbance (late 17th-early 19th centuries)
3. agitation of mind; strong mental feeling (mid-17th century)
4. any of the instinctive affections of the mind (e.g., love, horror, pity) which come and go according to one’s personality, experience, and bodily state; a mental ← 12 | 13 →
feeling. Also, mental feeling as distinguished from knowledge and from will (early 19th century).

Although dictionary definitions as such may be neither sufficiently comprehensive nor theory-informed, the definition of the noun emotion provided in the SOED offers several important insights. Firstly, the word emotion has undergone a substantial change of meaning in the English language since the 16th century, when the word entered English for the first time. Secondly, to the extent that the terms agitation of mind, mental feeling, and affection do not map onto the same kinds of concepts, quite distinct mental phenomena that differ in intensity and complexity are referred to with a single word emotion in English, including both the excited, short-lived as well as the (more) stable and time-persistent mental states and processes or events. Thirdly, in the folk theory of emotions embodied in the SOED definition of the word emotion, although the word emotion is used to speak ‘of the mind’, emotions are related to bodily states, i.e., to physiological and behavioral changes in the body. What inheres in the SOED definition is that the affections of the mind referred to with the everyday word emotion are not volitional, conscious mental states, that is, emotional states of the mind do not have cognitive contents, in contrast to states of will and knowledge. This is the traditional view that can be traced back to at least Plato; it has continued to exert a strong influence on both lay and expert views on emotions until today (Scherer 1995, 2011).

Originally, as in French, the word emotion was used in English for physical movement, disturbance, or agitation “of anything at all, from the weather, or a tree, to the human body” (Dixon 2012: 340), as illustrated with the examples from The Compact Edition of the OED (1985: 853):

(2) The divers emotions of that people [the Turks].

(3) Some accidental Emotion … of the Center of Gravity.

(4) When exercise has left any Emotion in his Blood.

During the 18th century, the word emotion slowly came to be used for “the bodily stirrings accompanying mental feelings” (Dixon 2012: 340), as illustrated below with examples from The Compact Edition of OED (1985: 853):

(5) I hope to see the Pope … without violent Emotions.

(6) The emotion raised by grand object is awful.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2016 (September)
Frankfurt am Main, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2016. 296 pp., 40 fig., 30 tables

Biographical notes

Marek Kuźniak (Volume editor) Bożena Rozwadowska (Volume editor) Michał Szawerna (Volume editor)

Marek Kuźniak is Associate Professor in the Institute of English Studies, University of Wrocław. Bożena Rozwadowska is Associate Professor in the Institute of English Studies, University of Wrocław. Michał Szawerna is Assistant Professor in the Institute of English Studies, University of Wrocław.


Title: From Motion to Emotion