Tom Kindt

Norbert Fries

Encoding Emotions in Texts


Full-length article in: JLT 1/2 (2007), 293-337.

This is the first instalment of a two-part study that examines emotions from the perspective of linguistic semiotics. The underlying issue at stake is the relationship between linguistic forms and the meanings attached to them. This part of the study lays the theoretical foundations for a consideration of the issues involved.

In semantic terms, emotions can be explicated as predications: they assign to an experiencer the property of having particular subjective psychological experiences and forms of motor behaviour in certain situational conditions. When emotions are encoded linguistically, however, it is not necessary for each part of the predications involved to be lexically realized. In this respect, the linguistic meanings encoded in the lexical configuration of a language's grammatical and textual structures can be treated as underspecified. This allows us to analyse grammatical and textual structures as structures that are stringently compositional in nature, and to consider the meaning of linguistic signs and their expression on various levels. Meanings can be determined by lexical factors, grammatical factors, or factors relating to textual structure. In the case of both spoken and written utterances (that is, in conversations and texts), it is possible to convert such meanings into interpretations by making recourse to areas of knowledge other than that of grammar. These interpretations are tied to certain referents in a text or conversation.

Emotional attitude (emotionale Einstellung) and emotional scene (emotionale Szene) are introduced as descriptive concepts for explicating emotions. They permit a more detailed understanding of the semantic and conceptual aspects that are relevant to the linguistic encoding of emotions. Emotional attitude is used to refer to the evaluative connection between a bearer of emotion and a relevant concept. Emotional attitudes can be formalized by means of three quantifying functions. These quantifying functions assign emotional values to emotional attitudes. The emotional scene serves as a descriptive tool for explicating clustered situational conditions of emotions. An emotional scene consists of the following descriptive features: experiencer, stimulus, emotional values, and judgements about the conditions for emotional evaluations. This last descriptive feature is a complex one and is formed using various predicates, including a set of basic predicates that are described in more detail and denote the qualities of internal states of living things that can be perceived through introspection.


JLTonline ISSN 1862-8990

This work may be copied for non-profit educational use if proper credit is given to the author and JLTonline.

For other permission, please contact JLTonline.

How to cite this item:

Abstract of: Norbert Fries, Die Kodierung von Emotionen in Texten Teil 1: Grundlagen.

In: JLTonline (25.03.2009)


A Persistent Identifier can be found in the PDF-Version of this article.