Cognitive lexicography of emotion terms

By November 17, 2016,
AuthorCarolin Ostermann
TitleCognitive lexicography of emotion terms
AbstractAt a glance, lexicography and cognitive linguistics are two branches of linguistics that do not seem to have a lot in common. While the lexicography of English on the one hand has followed established principles for decades or even centuries, cognitive linguistics on the other hand only emerged a few decades ago. But since the systematic description of the language is the basis for lexicography, linguistics also has a significant influence on the latter (cf. Béjoint 2010). I furthermore argue that it would be especially beneficial to use cognitive linguistics as a new basis for lexicography, - leading to something called ’cognitive lexicography‘ - since this new branch of linguistics tries to explain how humans perceive and conceptualise the world and has provided the basis for an entire new conception of semantics. A description of language in dictionaries based on cognitive linguistics would therefore be more realistic (cf. Geeraerts 2007) and more tangible. This is demonstrated here for emotion terms, which are generally hard to define. Emotion terms have received a fair amount of treatment in literature (cf. Kövecses 2000), but dictionary definitions of emotion terms are usually vague and circular. For this class of abstract nouns, a new lexicographic defining format has been developed which is not only based on traditional principles of lexicography, but also on cognitive linguistic semantic information concerning emotion terms, for example the prototypical emotion scenario and metaphors and metonymies (cf. Kövecses 2000). Definitions of the nine basic emotions terms anger, disgust, hate, fear, sadness, desire, love, happiness and joy written in this new format were scrutinised in a user study whereby test subjects had to name the correct term for a given definition. It has been demonstrated that definitions following this new cognitive linguistic defining scheme yield significantly better results compared to traditional dictionary definitions.
SessionLexicography and semantic theory
Keywordslexicography and semantic theory, English monolingual learner lexicography, cognitive linguistics, new lexicographic approach, semantics of emotion terms, user-study
author = {Carolin Ostermann},
title = {Cognitive lexicography of emotion terms},
pages = {493--501},
booktitle = {Proceedings of the 15th EURALEX International Congress},
year = {2012},
month = {aug},
date = {7-11},
address = {Oslo,Norway},
editor = {Ruth Vatvedt Fjeld and Julie Matilde Torjusen},
publisher = {Department of Linguistics and Scandinavian Studies, University of Oslo},
isbn = {978-82-303-2228-4},