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How do you say 'happiness'? Emotions do not speak the same language

In somali you say cabsi; in tagalog, the dialect of the Philippines, takot; in icelandic ótti. In Italian is fear: different words for the same emotion. Or almo

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How do you say 'happiness'? Emotions do not speak the same language
In somali you say cabsi; in tagalog, the dialect of the Philippines, takot; in icelandic ótti. In Italian is fear: different words for the same emotion. Or almost: according to the results of a study conducted by a team of scientists from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Max-Planck-Institut e , in fact, the meaning of the words associated with different emotions – even those which are "basic", as exactly that-a fear, anger, joy and sadness – can change significantly depending on the language of origin. The work was published in Science.

The study in question, which involved almost 2500 languages, is one of the most extensive ever conducted on the topic. Researchers have constructed the so-called "networks of colessificazione" (tentative translation of the English colexification), a phenomenon that occurs when a word, in any language, has more than a single meaning. An example of colessificazione is the end time, that in Italian means either the atmospheric conditions that the chronological time, meaning that instead of in English are expressed by two different words, respectively, weather and time. Or the Russian ruka, which indicates both the arm and the hand. In their work, the authors have tried to understand if and how the languages "colessificassero" the emotions, or, in simple words, what emotions are indicated by a single word, and which are indicated by separate words in the different languages of the world.

In this way, the team discovered that the languages describe emotions in a very different way in different regions of the world. For example, in some languages, the pain is semantically close to fear and anxiety, while in others it is next to remorse. A little surprisingly, languages, geographical regions closer together are more similar, also in the description of the emotions, compared to the languages related to far-away countries: "This difference," explained Joshua Conrad Jackson , one of the authors of the work, "is probably due to the contacts historic events which took place between the speakers of different languages, who live in nearby places, which has led to the creation of a coding of emotions more similar and shared."

geographic Factors aside, there are also similarities in all languages, for example, seem to distinguish emotions on the basis of the fact that they are positive (e.g. happiness) or negative (e.g. fear or sadness). And that, say the authors, suggests the existence of universal elements which clearly derive directly from the biology of our species.

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