The Opposition of Emotionally Colored and Emotionally Neutral Vocabulary

The Opposition of Emotionally Colored and Emotionally Neutral Vocabulary

The tendency to judge that speech is only an instrument for making statements is quite primitive. Some people forget that there are many different possibilities. The way we speak also expresses our emotions, the attitude towards people, the interrelationships between the audience and the speaker.

Sometimes you need to guide people, warn them or show someone’s disapproval or approval or make your speech sound more enthusiastic or encouraging. We must take all this into account when investigating the lexical meaning of words. Using terms like “emotional” or “expressive”; “affective” or “evaluative”, some people think that they are synonymous, for example that an emotive word is necessarily also a stylistically colored word, or considering all stylistically colored words as emotional. But that is not the case.

So, let’s agree that the so-called emotional speech is any statement that expresses different human emotions. It is easy to find in speech a large number of syntactic, lexical and intonation peculiarities. Thus, by lexical peculiarities I mean special, emotionally colored words. The emotional coloring of the word can be occasional or permanent. Let’s focus on the second. Lexical units acquire their emotional coloring, that is, their affective connotation, in emotional contexts of particular situations.

The most common type of emotional words, as it seems to me, are interjections. The fact is that they express many emotions without naming them: Ouch! My! Boy! Darling! Wow! Oh! etc Interjections can be derived from other parts of speech or be primary interjections. For example, if you describe something as a “drag”, what do you mean? Is it boring, too difficult or physically exhausting? Certainly something that is annoying or boring. We can find many moving words in everyday small talk or in literature: “I love Sibyl Vane. I want to place her on a golden pedestal and see the world adore the woman who is mine. What is marriage? An irrevocable vow. Te you tease him about it. Ah! Don’t tease. (Oscar Wild “The Picture of Dorian Gray” Moscow Progress Publishers 1979 Volume One, page 170)

To express irritation, mockery or any other emotion, the speech must possess some special features that show the audience that the speaker’s emotions are very strong. The traditional word order is not used in such cases, but the inversion can obviously be found. Furthermore, very interesting and vivid examples of echo-conversations can be found in everyday spoken language. Sometimes it sounds very funny: “Why should I…?” – “Stop why should!” or “Oh come on!” – “Don’t come to me!” These are examples of mocking. It’s fun to find new words like “why should” invented by the speaker in the moment of utter irritation. This kind of emotional speech is definitely on the rise in the speech of today’s youth, as native speakers surmise.

Emotionally colored words are opposed to emotionally neutral ones. These words actually express notions (it is the so-called naming function) but fail to express the speaker’s emotions or her attitude towards people or the speaker’s state of mind. However, sometimes it is very difficult to distinguish the sets, since they are not very distinguishable, there are many mixed cases. Some of them may possess traits that belong to both. Many words are definitely neutral in their primary and direct meaning, but quite emotional in a certain conversation under the conditions of the context.

Another group of words can be called “evaluative words” that contrasts in speech with the neutral words. These words, as we use them in sentences, can not only show the presence of emotions but identify or specify them.

Just to summarize what has been mentioned, I would like to underline that emphatic and emotional words do not show emotions by themselves, but impact them in the whole expression in combination with syntactic and intonational means.

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