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DOI 10.12887/30-2017-2-118-07

Agnieszka MIKOŁAJCZUK – Between Words and Feelings: Wstyd (‘Shame / Embarrassment’) in Modern Polish

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The main goal of the paper is to present selected results of cognitive and structuralist semantic research into how Polish speakers talk about and understand various feelings from the general category of ‘wstyd’ (‘shame / embarrassment’). The lexemes wstyd (‘shame / embarrassment’) and wstydzić się (‘to feel shame / embarrassment’), and their synonyms constituted the core objects of the investigation. Lexicographic sources as well as texts from the National Corpus of Polish and the Internet, containing these lexemes, were studied in search of the structure of the lexical field of wstyd in modern Polish and of important aspects of Polish conceptualization of feelings from the category of ‘shame.’

The field of wstyd in modern Polish is organized along two main semantic parameters: ‘lack of self-confidence’ and ‘lack of or diminution of someone’s high self-esteem,’ which are connected to each other by central words: the noun / verb / interjection wstyd (in its various meanings and functions) and the verb wstydzić się. The parameters provide links to other general categories of emotions: ‘fear’ on the one hand, and ‘sadness’ (‘regret’) on the other. Elements of an emotional situation, such as an experiencer of feelings, their perpetrator, judge and the public, object of comparisons, as well as typical reasons and sources, system of values and evaluation, temporal characteristics, intensity, typical symptoms and expressions, and emotional background were shown in the paper as contributing to the conceptualization of feelings connected with the general complex concept of wstyd in modern Polish.

Keywords: semantics, emotion terms, conceptualization of self-conscious emotions, wstyd, nieśmiałość, ‘shame,’ ‘embarrassment,’ ‘shyness’

Contact: Institute of Applied Polish Studies, Faculty of Polish Studies, Warsaw University,
ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28,
00-325 Warsaw, Poland

E-mail: amikolajczuk@tlen.pl
Phone: +48 22 5520374

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» 118_Mikolajczuk.pdf

  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. e-ISSN 2720-5355
  3. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 100.00
  4. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  5. DOI Prefix 10.12887