Structure of the Basque emotion lexicon

Itziar Alonso-Arbiol, Phillip R. Shaver, R. Chris Fraley, Beatriz Oronoz, Erne Unzurrunzaga, Ruben Urizar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using a prototype approach to emotion concepts, two studies were conducted in the Basque Country, where an ancient non-Indo-European language is still spoken, to identify the mental state words that Basque speakers are most certain name emotions (emozioak) and to map the hierarchical and family resemblance structure of the most prototypical 124 emotion concepts. Cluster analysis of sorting data collected in the Basque Country revealed five basic level emotion categories similar to those found in American English and Indonesian (love, happiness, anger, sadness, and fear) as well as five other small positive emotion categories. All major categories found at the basic level contained several terms that are not traceable to Romance languages. Also in line with the American and Indonesian results, the basic level categories in Basque fell within two large superordinate categories: positive and negative emotions. Each of the five large basic level categories contained several subordinate level categories. The results suggest that the emotion lexicons, and corresponding conceptualisations of the emotion domain, in the Basque Country, Indonesia, and the US are similar, although there are some important differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)836-865
Number of pages30
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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