Contrasting languages and cultures

A multifactorial profile-based account of SHAME in English, Polish, and French

The present study investigates the concept of SHAME from a cross-linguistic and cross-cultural perspective. This concept, overarching the field of negative self-eva-luative emotions, is operationalized through two lexical categories ('shame' and 'embarrassment') that are comparable in the languages under investigation. The usage of the adjectival exponents of these categories is analyzed in four communities of British English, American English, French and Polish. The study has two goals, one descriptive, the other methodological. Firstly, it aims to identify the conceptual structuring of the two lexical categories relative to their respective socio-cultural contexts. The result will be four sets of culture-sensitive usage profiles. Secondly, the study further advances corpus-driven quantitative methodology for the description of intersubjectively-grounded abstract concepts. The results obtained here provide partial evidence for the existence of a cultural continuum ranging from the Anglo-Saxon communities, through France to Poland along the descriptive dimension of individualism-collectivism.

The author

Karolina Krawczak is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cognitive Linguistics, at the Faculty of English of Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań (Poland). Her current research concerns the application of quantitative corpus-driven methodology to the study of abstract concepts. Her recent publications and conference presentations focus on social emotions as well as epistemic stance markers in English, Polish and French. She has also published a monograph “Epiphenomenal Semantics: Cognition, Context, and Convention” and articles devoted to philosophy of language.

The text

The present study was conducted during my research stay at LaTTiCe (UMR 8094, CNRS/ENS/Paris- 3) funded within the program of Fernand Braudel-IFER-FMSH and Marie Curie Action / COFUND - FP7.

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