Linguistic Representation of Emotions in Japanese and Hungarian: Quantity and Abstractness

  • Márton SZEMEREY Károli Gáspár University of the Reformed Church in Hungary Dharma Gate Buddhist College University of Pécs
Keywords: Emotion, Emotion regulation, Linguistic Category Model, Linguistic Abstraction


In the present paper, two linguistic aspects of emotion expression are studied in the form they are performed in present day Japanese and Hungarian. After a brief summary on the recent emotional researches connected to Japanese culture and language, the concept of Linguistic Category Model is introduced. The quantitative study presented afterwards investigates emotion expression in terms of amount and abstraction. Translations were used for comparison and the results showed that 1) Japanese tend to use less explicit emotion terms compared to Hungarians and 2) emotion language in Japanese is characterized by the choice of less abstract phrases compared to Hungarian. These findings are discussed in the light of their relevance to former researches of cross-cultural psychology and linguistics.


Download data is not yet available.


Bigazzi, S. & Nencini, A. (2008). How evaluations construct identities: the psycholinguistic model of evaluation. In O. Vincze & S. Bigazzi (Eds.), Élmény, tötrénet – a történetek élménye (pp. 91-105). Budapest: Új Mandátum Könyvkiadó.

Bodor, P. (2004). Az érzelmi fejlődés diszkurzív megközelítése: az érzés (feel). In M. Győri (Ed.), Az emberi megismerés kibontakozása – Társas kognició, emlékezet, nyelv (pp. 17-40). Budapest: Gondolat.

Doi, T. (1981). The anatomy of dependence. Tokyo: Kodansha International.

Ekman, P. (1972). Universals and cultural differences in facial expresions of emotion. In. J. Cole, (Ed.), Nebraska symposium on motivation (pp. 207-283). Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press. (idézi Oatley és Jenkins, 2001)

Kashima, Y., Yamaguchi, S., Kim, U., Choi, S., Gelfand, M., & Yuki, M. (1995). Culture, Gender, and Self: A Perspective From Individualism-Collectivism Research. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69, 925-937.

Kitayama, S., & Mesquita, B., & Karasawa, M. (2006). Cultural Affordances and Emotional Experience: Socially Engaging and Disengaging Emotions in Japan and the United States. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91, 890-903.

Kiyomi, S. (2006). Kanjōhyōgen no nichiēhikaku. Surugadaidaigakuronsō, 32, 91-114.

Maass, A. (1999). Linguistic intergroup bias: Stereotype perpetuation through language. In M. P. Zanna, (Ed.), Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, (Vol. 31, pp. 79- 121). New York: Academic Press.

Maass, A., Karasawa, M., Politi, F. & Suga, S. (2006). Do Verbs and Adjectives Play Different Roles in Different Cultures? A Cross-Linguistic Analysis of Person Representation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 90, 734-750.

Maass, A., Salvi, D., Arcuri, L., & Semin, G. R. (1989). Language use in intergroup contexts: The linguistic intergroup bias. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 981-993.

Maeda, T. (1993). Nihongo no kanjō wo arawasu kotoba. Nihongogaku, 12, 4-13.

Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1991). Culture and the Self: Implications for Cognition, Emotion, and Motivation. Psychological Review, 98, 224-253.

Matsumoto, D. (1999). Culture and Self: An empirical assessment of Markus and Kitayama’s theory of independent and interdependent self-construals. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 2, 289-310.

Matsumoto, D., Yoo, S. H., Nakagawa, S., ... 37 Members of the Multinational Study of Cultural Display Rules. (2008). Culture, Emotion Regulation, and Adjustment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94, 925-937.

Miyamoto, Y., & Ma, X. (2011). Dampening or Savoring Positive Emotions: A Dialectical Cultural Script Guides Emotion Regulation. Emotion, 11, 1346-1357.

Morschbach, H., & Tyler, W. J. (1986). A Japanese emotion: Amae. In R. Harré (Ed.), The social construction of emotions (pp. 289-307). Oxford: Blackwell.

Nomura, M. (2003). Gendaigo no tekusuto ni okeru kanjōhyōgen. Nihongogaku, 22, 36-44.

Ohso, M. (2001). Kanjō wo arawasu dōshi-keiyōshi ni kansuru ichikōsatsu. Gengobunkaronshū, 22, 21-30.

Romney, A. K., Moore, C. C., & Rusch, C. (1997). Cultural universals: Measuring the semantic structure of emotion terms in English and Japanese. Anthropology, 94, 5489-5494.

Safdar, S., Friedlmeier, W., Matsumoto, D., Yoo, S. H., Kwantes, C. T., Kakai, H., & Shigemasu, E. (2009). Variations of Emotional Display Rules Within and Across Cultures: A Comparison Between Canada, USA, and Japan. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 41, 1-10.

Semin, G. R., & Fiedler, K. (1988). The cognitive functions of linguistic categories in describing persons: Social cognition and language. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 558-568.

Semin, G. R., & Fiedler, K. (1989). Relocating attributional phenomena within a language-cognition interface: The case of actors’ and observers’ perspectives. European Journal of Social Psychology, 19, 491-508.

Semin, G. R., & Fiedler, K. (1991). The linguistic category model: Its bases, applications, and range. In W. Stroebe & M. Hewstone, (Eds.), European Review of Social Psychology (Vol. 2, pp. 1-30). Chicester, UK: Wiley.

Semin, G. R., Görts, C. A., Nandram, S., & Semin-Goosens A. (2002). Cultural perspectives on the linguistic representation of emotion and emotion events. Cognition and Emotion, 16 (1), 11-28.

Semin, G. R. (2004). The Self-in-Talk: Towards an Analysis of Interpersonal Language and its Use. In J. Jost, M. R. Banaji & D. A. Prentice (Eds.), Perspectivism in Social Psychology: The Yin and Yang of Scientific Progress (pp. 143-159). Washington, DC: APA Press.

Tanabe, Y., & Oka, T. (2001). Linguistic intergroup bias in Japan. Japanese Psychological Research, 43, 104-111.

Uchida, Y., Townsend, S. S. M., Markus, R. H., & Bergsieker, H. B. (2009). Emotions as Within or Between People? Cultural Variation in Lay Theories of Emotion Expression and Inference. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35, 1427-1439.

Wierzbicka, A. (1996). Japanese Cultural Scripts: Cultureal Psychology and “Cultural Grammar”. Ethos, 24, 527-555.

Yoshimoto, B. (1991). Kitchin. Tokyo: Fukutake Bunko.

Yoshimoto, B. (2001). Kitchen. New York: Faber and Faber Limited.
How to Cite
SZEMEREYM. (2012). Linguistic Representation of Emotions in Japanese and Hungarian: Quantity and Abstractness. Acta Linguistica Asiatica, 2(1), 61-72.
Research Articles