Thomas Price Caldwell Jr. tpc1 at RA.MSSTATE.EDU
Mon Jul 14 20:36:19 UTC 1997

At 8:46 AM 9/19/98, Brian MacWhinney wrote:
>   Good point.  However, my claim was a bit more narrow.  I was not
>suggesting that English is in any way "nice", only that it avoids this
>particular verbal show of pleasure in other's suffering.  English accepts
>the notion of "sadism", but only as a foreign import.  English is rich, of
>course, in terms describing moral violations like greed, sloth, cowardice
>(the basic sins of Pilgrim's Progress).  It is also definitely OK to talk
>openly about vindictiveness and revenge (witness Timothy McVeigh on the
>subject of revenge for the Waco FBI attack).  These emotional terms are
>justified by their grounding in righteousness.  But it is exactly this that
>forces us to shift (almost at the last moment?) from feeling
>"Schadenfreude" to concluding that someone "got his just desserts".  In
>fact, what happens is that the wrath (vindictiveness, vengefulness) of the
>Almighty ends up descending onto an appropriate target without us having to
>develop a personal relation grounded on the joy of seeing someone else
>suffer.  Tricky stuff.
>   Does Lakoff have anything on issues like this?  English has lots of
>stuff like "writhing in agony" and "twisting in the wind."  Are there
>metaphors and similes in Schadenfreude languages grounded on "delight in
>watching someone twist in the wind?"
>    Alternatively, perhaps there is some universal of metaphor that
>excludes emotions about others' emotions.  Maybe such terms are just too
>cognitively complex according to some version of "theory of mind."    What
>about Akio Kamio's analyses that claim that Japanese limits the speaker's
>ability to make statements about the hearer's feelings and emotions
>(speaker's territory of knowledge)?  Perhaps we could argue that English is
>constrained in a similar way.  I realize that this is not the original
>account that I offered, but it is also an interesting possibility.
>-- Brian

Price Caldwell
English Department
Mississippi State University
Miss. State, MS 39762

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