LINGUIST List 13.870

Thu Mar 28 2002

Qs: "Emotion Verbs" in Langs, Postlexical Structure

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  1. r.schiering, Girls in caf�s, emotion verbs, nationality
  2. Dan Everett, postlexical structure preservation

Message 1: Girls in caf�s, emotion verbs, nationality

Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002 10:18:19 +0100 (MET)
From: r.schiering <>
Subject: Girls in caf�s, emotion verbs, nationality

Dear Linguists,

Imagine the following situation: Your day's work is done, you feel a little
bit tired. A young woman joins you for one more cup of coffee before you go.
So you are sitting there in this nice caf� with this nice young woman. And
the coffee tastes good, and both of you enjoy smoking innumerable cigarettes
and having a conversation. Surprisingly, she doesn't stop the conversation
when it comes to linguistics (by now you realize she must be special). As you
are trying to explain to her (a non-linguist) what you are doing as a linguist
in simple words, she comes up with her own theory about language and
nationality. She explains the following (somewhat shortened):

1) Germans are somehow strange
2) German has very few words denoting nuances of positive emotions for
another person (but quite a lot for negative emotions)
3) This lack of positive emotion verbs is directly connected with a lack of
4) Therefore, the german language determines that the Germans are rather
emotionless when it comes to liking someone (but not when it comes to hating
5) This might be the reason why Germans are so strange

You might guess that I was in such a situation yesterday afternoon. Somehow,
I didn't want to accept this theory (as I feel like an emotional guy,
despite German). Nevertheless I hadn't much to say against it, except for I don't
think there is any provable link between the capability of emotions and the
capability of expressing such emotions (we know that Sapir-Whorf-style
arguments are hard to speak against). I argued that you can (perhaps in any language)
paraphrase or describe such emotions, even if you don't have a special word
for it. This doesn't count for her, because this includes reflections over
your emotions and something like objectivizing, which isn't as immediate as
having one word for one emotion. (Not bad isn't it?) 

Now I need your help. She mentioned that other languages (Dutch, French)
have a larger set of positive emotion words (I think she meant verbs). For
German we could only think of four expressions: 'lieben' ('to love someone'),
'm�gen' ('to like someone'), 'lieb haben' (not as strong as 'to love someone'),
'gern haben' (a little stronger than 'to like someone'), where the last ones
are not really simple verb forms. So I would like to ask you to sent me all
the positive emotion verbs you know in German, Dutch, French and any other
language that behaves interestingly in this domain. I would be especially
interested in systems that have one verb for feelings like 'yes I loved him once,
and we had a relationship, but this is over and now we are good friends' and
such things. Are there languages that do express nuances of positive emotions
towards another person in simple verbs?

As this might be a lesson in how to impress cute young women as a linguist
(by the way this should be the main motivation for a 24-year old like me to do
linguistics!), I will sent a summary of responses.

Ren� Schiering
Department of Linguistics, Cologne

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Message 2: postlexical structure preservation

Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002 10:01:37 -0300
From: Dan Everett <>
Subject: postlexical structure preservation


Imagine a process which operates only across word boundaries or at the end
of phonological phrases, etc. That is, what Lexical Phonology would likely
label a postlexical rule.

To give a hypothetical example, a process of, say, lenition of voiceless
stops at the end of a phonological phrase.

Now imagine that this process takes phonemes (lexically present segments) as
inputs and can only return phonemes as output. That is, the process is

In the original formulations of structure-preservation in Lexical Phonology,
the idea was to capture the fact that lexical rules did not introduce
allophonic/non-phonemic/etc. material. It was assumed, but not crucially,
that postlexical rules would not be structure-preserving.

I would like to know if readers of this list have encountered examples of
postlexical structure-preservation. If so, I would also like to know what
they think of the theoretical implications of the process.

If there are sufficient replies, I will post a summary.

Thanks in advance,

Dan Everett
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