Speaking of pain in Greek: Implications for the cognitive permeation of emotions

Marina Terkourafi, Persefoni Bali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A distinction between "emotions", as an English-specific notion explicitly containing a cognitive component, and "feelings" as its universal counterpart underspecified for a cognitive component has been proposed by Wierzbicka (1991, 1999). We focus on the level of application of this distinction using evidence from the linguistic expression of physical and emotional pain in Greek. The quantitative and qualitative analysis of a database of 900 expressions from spoken and written discourse shows that the two types of pain make use of the same linguistic resources in syntax (same argument structures) and semantics/pragmatics (localisation to a part of the body, metaphorical expression). Based on our findings, we propose that the difference between "feelings" and "emotions" is a difference in sense within the English system, rather than in reference. Referentially, the two terms are co-extensive, referring to a continuum from bodily based to cognitively based feelings, all of which are cognitively permeated to different degrees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1745-1779
Number of pages35
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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