Deliteralization and the birth of "emotion"
The embodiment hypothesis, a cornerstone of much thinking in Cognitive Linguistics, has given rise to a renewed interest in the interaction between cultural factors and embodied experience. In the course of the previous two decades, an early assumption of a universalist physiological basis (Lakoff & Kövecses 1987) gave way to a more nuanced approach when it was established that the emotion vocabulary in English is to a large extent determined by the historically traceable, culturally specific influence of the theory of humors (Geeraerts & Grondelaers 1995; Gevaert 2007, 2008; Geeraerts & Gevaert 2008; and see Sharifian 2003 and Kövecses 2005 for the incorporation of this view in Conceptual Metaphor Theory). In this chapter, I will take the exploration of the influence of the humoral theory one step further, and sketch how the early history of the word emotion itself (or at least, the French verb émouvoir from which it derives) is entangled with the humoral theory. The study in the following pages is based on the materials collected by Annelies Bloem in her PhD thesis (Bloem 2008), which I co-supervised with Michèle Goyens. The analysis offered here is meant to be exploratory only: a full-fledged analysis of the history of emotion, even if it is restricted to the emergence and the early history of the word, would require a considerably more detailed description than what can be offered here.
Geeraerts, D. (2014)., Deliteralization and the birth of "emotion", in M. Yamaguchi, D. Tay & B. Blount (eds.), Approaches to language, culture, and cognition, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 50-67.
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