functionalist hypothesis?

Philip A. Bralich, Ph.D. bralich at HAWAII.EDU
Tue May 6 21:21:37 UTC 1997

At 09:59 AM 5/6/97 -1000, Jane A. Edwards wrote:
>I'm skeptical of Brian's hypothesis.
>It seems to me that English does have words which describe
>other emotions which "should not exist."  Some of the ones which
>come to my mind are:
>- vindictiveness
>- vengefulness
>- greed
>- perversity
>Language speaks of things it is useful to speak of.
>The world might be a nicer place if such things didn't exist
>but we should be cautious in assuming that therefore the language
>will not speak of them.  It is useful to be warned of people who
>are not nice.  Why wouldn't a language have words to express that?

What interests me is the fact that all languages can express the
same concepts, but in some cases they choose to do it in one
word while in others they require a phrase or a sentence.  For
things that are not commonly present in one culture this is natural
enough, but for something like Schadenfreude, which is present in
every culture, why do some handle it in one word and others in a phrase.
Perhaps it is a kind of denial.

And as far as being warned of people who are not nice... yes, it would
be handy to know who is willing to respect me as a person and who is not.

Phil Bralich

Philip A. Bralich, Ph.D.
President and CEO
Ergo Linguistic Technologies
2800 Woodlawn Drive, Suite 175
Honolulu, HI 96822

Tel: (808)539-3920
Fax: (808)5393924

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