УДК 811.111’373.4 : 159.942.5

Yulia Gordiienko


The article is about the differences between emotivity and expressiveness. The works of the linguists, who studied different means of expressing emotional state in English, especially lexical, grammatical, and syntactical ones, have been analyzed. It has been proved, that emotive component characterizes a word as the language unit. The basic principles of the process of lexical units categorization and the level of their use in the language system have been shown. The means of expressing positive and negative estimation of the emotional state are characterized. It is mentioned that negative lexical units with emotive meaning dominate over the positive ones in number, though they are used in speech more rarely. The attention is paid to the parts of speech, which are mainly used to express the emotional state – interjections, adjectives, nouns, adverbs, and verbs. Phraseological units with the emotive meaning are also classified. Different approaches to the classification of emotive lexicon are described.

Key words: emotivity, expressiveness, emotive component, emotive meaning, emotive lexicon.


Formulation of research problem and its significance. For a long time scientists have been interested in the issues connected with emotions, their meaning in the perception of the world, and their status from the point of view of psychology, physiology, philosophy, linguistics, and other sciences. The problem of correlation of emotions with the truth, between the intellectual and the rational, the evaluative and the expressive is still very important. Feelings and emotions turn out to be the main forms of emotional states. For our research the differences between feelings and emotions are not essential, as the main thing is not to provide a contrast between these notions, but to regard them as a part and the whole.

The actuality of the search for the means of expressing a person’s emotional state is defined in terms of the common tendency in modern linguistics towards the research of the human factor.

The analysis of researches on the problem. Linguistics of emotions emerged due to an old argument between the linguists (Karl Buhler, Edward Sapir, Charles Bally) concerning the fact, whether emotional component was the subject of the scientific research of linguistics. For a long time the scientists couldn’t find common solution to the problem. Some scholars (Karl Buhler, Edward Sapir) thought, that cognitive function was prevalent in a language, consequently they didn’t study the emotional component in their investigations. To prove that idea emotionality was considered as only a psychological phenomenon, it had individual character and was not a feature of a word in the meaning of the language unit. Later researches denied that emotive component was a part of the semantic meaning, because the component analysis of a word showed no special signs of the difference between the neutral words and the ones with emotional expression [5].

Other scientists (Charles Bally, Michel Breal) stressed that the expression of emotions was the main function of a language. In modern linguistics the problem of emotivity of the word, semantic interpretation and categorization of emotions is being actively investigated.

In linguistics the problem of emotions arises from the problem of a language function, i.e. to express and arouse emotions in the process of communication. Three functions of a word are distinguished: generali­zation, naming, and expressing the feelings of a communicator. Emotive lexicon is used in an emotional state in a definite situation. A.F. Losev points out two types of semantic valency: semantic and interpretative semantic one, which includes psychic, associative, and emotional compo­nents of the reality perception. Language means of expressing emotions (words, suffixes, phraseological units, intonation) have been classified, so emotivity is the part of semantics of language units, which are used by a particular language community. R.A. Budagov stresses that such language gives its native speakers the possibility to tell any information in everyday practice.

Since a language is the way to gain social experience, any experience is fixed in the language units, with the help of which people express and perceive emotions.

The aim and tasks of the paper. The present paper aims at revealing lexical means of expressing emotive meaning. The above objective presupposes the following tasks: 1) to show the sense of emotivity; 2) to describe different approaches to the classification of emotive lexicon; 3) to find lexical means of expressing emotive meanings.

Presentation of the main material and theoretical grounding. In modern lexicology the category of emotivity is used to describe emotive lexical units. V. I. Shakhovsky emphasizes that emotions are a psychological category while emotivity is a linguistic one. The scientist divides emotions into universal, recognized in all cultures, and those, which are defined by social and cultural characteristics, therefore specific for a particular culture. The expression of emotions depends on the variety of cultures, periods, social classes and in such a way the use of proper means (vocal / nonvocal, verbal / nonverbal) is determined. Thus, we ought to distinguish emotions, their physiological embodiment (laughter, tears etc.), and the ways of their verbalizing (naming, expressing, describing) [9]. V. I. Shakhovsky distinguishes two semiotic systems of emotions – Body Language and Verbal Language, which are not studied enough from the point of view of their correlation. Though, it has been established, that the primary semiotic system predominates over the secondary one (verbal) in the speed, directness, reliability, the level of sincerity and quality of expressing emotions. The explanation of the phenomenon is rather simple as the reality is much richer than a language. The verbal expression of emotions is usually subjective. The same emotion is expressed by different personalities in different ways because of numerous factors. As far as emotions are always cognitive and situational, their choice is also situational.

It has been proved in linguistics, that in many languages the emotive lexical units with negative meaning predominate in their quantity over emotive lexical units with positive semantics, but they are used in commu­nication more rarely. This fact gives the opportunity to make a conclusion that psychologically the mankind tends to everything positive.

It should be mentioned that two classes of emotive vocabulary are distinguished. The so called vocabulary of emotions includes the words, the meaning of which is made by the concepts of emotions (sorrow, joy) [7]. According to the work of V. I. Shakhovsky, only emotive vocabulary (expressive vocabulary that displays emotions) is actually emotive lexicon, as it accomplishes the categorization of emotions and forms the lexical stock of emotive means of a language.

Thus, nowadays there is no a monosemantic idea concerning the composition of emotive lexicon, as it has not been studied thoroughly. L. G. Babenko suggests a concept, in which emotive lexicon includes the words, which name emotions, because their emotive meaning is stable, and therefore the whole variety of means is suggested to call emotive lexicon. According to the theory of the scientist, emotive meaning is the meaning, in which the emotive sense is defined (expressed and distinguished) in a proper way [1]. This sense can totally coincide with the lexical meaning of the word (as in interjections), or it can be connotative (as in expressive words) or it can be a component of its meaning (nominatives).

Lately the attempts to classify emotive lexicon have been made in linguistics.

V. I. Shakhovsky stresses two types of emotive vocabulary: affective and connotative lexical units [9]. The scientist refers the following lexical units to the affective ones: interjections, swear words and tender words, emotionally intensified adjectives and adverbs that are shown as specialized emotive lexical units, as the expression of emotions is their only purpose. According to V. I. Shakhovsky connotative lexical units are emotive in secondary figurative meanings, derivatives with affixes of emotive subjective estimation, which express emotivity through logical subject semantics. The author thinks that connotative lexical units have the following structure of their lexical meaning: naming the object of reflection + emotional attitude of the subject of reflection to it.

Emotional connotations are made in a text with the help of emotionally estimated adjectives, verbs, which contain the estimation in their semantics. Interjections are commonly accepted language units with the emotional meaning.

V. N. Mykhailovska analyzes the words of different parts of speech connected by means of the stem with some secondary interjections, for example, damn interjection, damnable adjective, damned adverb. The author also considers the words close to the interjections by the meaning, for example, nonsense, rot, rubbish, fine, great, splendid, lovely [4]. An adjective is an important means of expressing emotional connotations. Negative estimation dominates in the adjectives foolish, silly, dirty, stupid, crazy, mad and others, that are used in the text to express rage, disagreement, contempt, astonishment. Positive estimation dominates in the adjectives sweet, lovely, good, wise and others, which are used in the texts to express delight, joy, approval.

Positive and negative emotions are expressed with the help of adverbs of measure and degree, in which emotional meaning is displayed first of all while the main denotative sense is suppressed. In such a case the adverbs are used as intensifiers with a higher degree of intensification, showing a very high level of emotional saturation.

The emotional sense is often transferred by the nouns, in which the meaning of emotional estimation is the only possible one and makes the base for nomination: fool, devil, brute, idiot, treasure, and darling.

Emotional connotations are expressed with the help of the adjectives like thing, creature etc., in which the meaning of emotional estimation appears only in a proper context thanks to their connection with emotionally estimated adjectives:

What a charming wicked creature! I like him so much!

It should be noted, that in comparison with the emotional potential of adjectives and nouns the possibilities of a verb are more limited. E. E. Sretenska investigated the verbs, which denote a person’s emotional activity. The main verbs were gathered according to the degree of their semantic similarity into 17 synonymic groups. Taking into consideration true relations between the subject and the object of emotional expression, the scientist distinguishes two verb categories: 1) the verbs of emotional attitude, and 2) the verbs of emotional influence [8]. 

Difficulty and diversity in expressing a person’s emotional state is shown by phraseological units – permanent word combinations with entirely or partly reinterpreted components of the meaning.

Y. I. Kondratina studies the category of emotivity in phraseology in its correlation with corresponding notions in the sphere of psychology of emotions.

The criteria, according to which Y. I. Kondratina points out the emotive component in the meaning structure of phraseological units, are the indicators, which are divided into two groups: 1) general ones expressed by the lexical units feeling, emotion, mood; 2) partial ones, which express or identify a particular emotion, e.g. anger, joy, hate. The scientist divides the partial indicators into four groups depending on the estimation they have: emotive indicators of negative, positive, neutral, and dual estimation.

Y. I. Kondratina affirms, that estimation determines emotivity in the quality, which allows to point out 3 semantic fields in phraseology:

1) phraseological semantic field of negative emotivity (e.g. hate, nervousness, sufferings, fear, depression, disappointment);

2) phraseological semantic field of positive emotivity (e.g. happiness, joy, delight, pleasure, inspiration);

3) phraseological semantic field of mixed emotivity [2].

The problem of an emotional factor in phraseology has been studied by N. M. Kurykalova, who thinks that semantic group of phraseological units with the emotional state sense is a combination of two classes of units, gathered according to the meaning of emotions:

  1. phraseological units of the negative emotional state;
  2. phraseological units of the positive emotional state.

N. M. Kurykalova concludes that phraseological units of the negative emotional state dominate. The author investigates separate groups:

1) The class of phraseological units, which denote the psychic state in cognitive activity:

a) phraseological units with the meaning of embarrassment, confusion;

b) phraseological units, that express astonishment.

2) The class of phraseological units, which denote the psychic state in volitional activity:

a) phraseological units, which denote the psychic state, characterized by the loss of volitional control;

b) phraseological units, which denote the psychic state, characterized by the predominant idea of volitional component of the human psyche.

The most numerous are the groups of phraseological units which mean the state of discretion – indiscretion. Phraseological units with the emotional state meaning combine rational estimation with expressiveness, therefore N. M. Kurykalova refers these units to the group of expressive phraseology. The emotive estimate of these phraseological units fixes an individual’s definite attitude to reality and arouses a particular emotional reaction of the addressee. In the research the scientist points out 1) phraseological units without estimation; 2) phraseological units with a particular type of estimation (positive or negative). The last group predominates [3].

In modern linguistic researches the idea, that almost every word contains emotional component in the meaning, is widespread. For the reflection of emotions in a written form special lexical means are necessary, to determine them the method of descriptors is used, as it is shown in the work of Y. N. Sevydova [6]. To the lexical descriptors the scientist refers:

  1. words, that evoke emotions;
  2. words and word combinations, that contain the emotional component in their semantic structure (swear words, tender words, etc.);
  3. words and expressions, the semantic structure of which is absolutely emotional (interjections, emotional particles).

In Somerset Maugham’s story «A Marriage of Convenience» a wide range of emotive lexicon is suggested. The author uses the following lexical means to express different emotions:

  1. the use of direct emotive lexical units:

Her cousin said she was not ugly. Imagine my surprise to see a young woman with the dignity of Juno, the features of Venus, and in her expression the intelligence of Minerva (admiration);

I married a jewel, my dear sirs, a woman of the most charming character, one in a thousand (admiration, affection);

I was flattered (satisfaction);

I was desperate (despair);

I was overwhelmed. I was bewildered (depression);

I was expostulated. I argued. Nothing would serve (despair, impasse).

  1. the use of rude words stresses irritation and anger:

You are completely idiotic.

  1. the description of an emotional state, in which lexical units gain the meaning of emotive vocabulary with the help of the context:

I was taken aback that I nearly dropped the box of chocolates (the adverb nearly in combination with the verb dropped, which initially has no emotive meaning, stresses the sense of the phraseological unit taken aback and expresses the confusion of the character);

I could not but notice that the governor gave her hand an affectionate little squeeze (the description of joy and love);

I got up and stamped on all those letters and all those photographs and I cried: I will marry none of them (anger, irritation, rage);

I tried to smile but my heart was sore (worry).

In the examples of this kind the verbs play the major role in the description of the emotional states.

  1. the description of an emotional state using the antonyms of different parts of speech (especially nouns, verbs, adjectives):

They were blonde and dark, tall and short, fat and thin (confusion);

… a woman of masculine intelligence and feminine sensibility (admiration);

What can a prolonged reflection add to the impulse of the moment? (affection);

She laughed till the tears ran down her face (joy);

I spent the interval before my mirror and seventeen times I tied and retied my tie (worry, excitement);

… if they are decent people and are willing to give and take, to live and let live, there is no reason why their union should not be as happy as ours (calm, sureness).

  1. the use of the phraseological units with negative emotivity:

I pulled all the strings I could (despair);

I walked away from the ministry with death in my heart (confusion);

At last I lost my temper (anger);

She waited a minute and I was on tenterhooks (nervousness, strain).

Conclusions and perspectives of further research. Having analyzed the works, dedicated to the study of the lexicon, that makes emotive stock of the English language, we can conclude, that emotive vocabulary should be divided into various groups according to different features. This gives the possibility to determine the main characteristics and the use level of the lexical units in the language system. At the same time, it should be mentioned, that emotive meaning is entirely reached thanks to the combination of lexical, grammatical, syntactic, and intonation means that come together. This fact determines the perspective of our further research.  

Sources and literature

1. Бабенко Л. Г. Лексические средства обозначения эмоций в русском языке / Л. Г. Бабенко. –  Свердловск : Урал. ун-т, 1989. – 184 с.

2. Кондрашина Е. И. Эмотивность в английской фразеологии : автореф. дис. на соискание уч. степени кандидата филол. наук : спец. 10.02.20 «Сравни­тельно-историческое, типологическое и сопоставительное языкознание» / Е. И. Кондрашина. – М., 1991. – 26 с.

3. Курикалова Н. М. Фразеологическая номинация явлений внутренней жизни человека (на материале современного английского языка) : дис. на соискание уч. степени кандидата филол. наук : спец. 10.02.04 «Германские языки» / Н. М. Курикалова. – К., 1985. – 226 с.

4. Михайловская В. Н. Некоторые лексические средства выражения эмо­циональности в современном английском языке : автореф. дис. на соискание уч. степени кандидата филол. наук : спец. 10. 02. 04 «Германские языки»  / В. Н. Михайловская. – Л., 1966. – 21 с.

5. Новиков Л. А. Семантика русского языка / Л. А. Новиков. – М. : Высшая школа, 1982. – 272 с.

6. Севидова Ю.Н. Метод дескрипторов – как средство выражения эмо­циональ­ности в вопросительных и побудительных предложениях в англий­ском языке / Ю. Н. Севидова. – [Электронный ресурс]. – Режим доступа:   http://www.nauteh-journal.ru/index.php/ru/.

7. Семенова Т. В. Вербализация эмоций человека в зеркале антонимии (на материале английского языка) / Т. В. Семенова // Вестник Челябинского государственного университета. – 2010. – № 4. – С. 156–159.

8. Сретенская Е. Е. Семасиологическое исследование и лексикографическое описание глагольной синонимики (на материале эмотивных глаголов совре­менного английского языка) : автореф. дис. на соискание уч. степени канди­дата филол. наук : спец. 10.02.02 «Языки народов Российской Федерации» / Е. Е. Сретенская. – М., 1980. – 19 с.

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Гордієнко Юлія. Лексичні засоби вираження емоційного стану в англій­ській мові. У статті розглянуто емотивність та її відмінності від експресивності. Проаналізовано роботи лінгвістів, які вивчали різноманітні способи вираження емоційного стану в англійській мові, а саме лексичні, граматичні, синтаксичні. Доведено, що емотивний компонент є ознакою слова як одиниці мови. Докладно проаналізовано основні принципи категоризації лексичних одиниць та ступінь використання цих засобів у мовній системі. Схарактеризовано способи вира­ження позитивної та негативної оцінки емоційного стану та доведено, що кіль­кісно переважають негативні емотиви, хоч вони й застосовуються в мовленні рідше, ніж позитивні. Акцентовано увагу на частинах мови, які використову­ються для опису емоційного стану – прикметниках, іменниках, прислівниках, вигуках. Окремо класифіковано фразеологічні одиниці, що мають емотивне значення. У статті описані різні підходи до класифікації емотивної лексики.

Ключові слова: емотивність, експресивність, емотивний компонент, емо­тивне значення, емотивна лексика.

Гордиенко Юлия. Лексические средства выражения эмоционального состояния в английском языке. В статье рассмотрены особенности эмотив­ности и ее отличия от экспрессивности. Проанализированы работы лингвистов, которые изучали разнообразные способы выражения эмоционального состояния в английском языке, а именно лексические, грамматические, синтаксические. Дока­зано, что эмотивный компонент является признаком слова как единицы языка. Детально проанализированы основные принципы категоризации лексических единиц и степень использования этих средств в языковой системе. Дана харак­теристика способов выражения положительной и отрицательной оценки эмоцио­нального состояния и доказано, что негативные эмотивы преобладают над позитив­ными количественно, хотя в речи они используются реже. Внимание акценти­ровано на частях речи, которые используются для описания эмоционального состояния – прилагательных, существительных, наречиях, междометиях. Отдель­но классифицированы фразеологические единицы, имеющие эмотивное значение.

Ключевые слова: эмотивность, экспрессивность, эмотивный компонент, эмотивное значение, эмотивная лексика.



© Gordiienko Y., 2014