Fear and respect: Overlap of emotional domain in the Japanese and Thai lexicons

Chavalin Svetanant*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Feelings of fear as well as feelings of respect are language-specific. They occasionally occur separately but they are also likely to share the same emotional domain. When fear and respect are combined, the result is either a feeling of "awe" which implies a sense of fear rather than respect, or a feeling of "reverence" which implies a sense of respect rather than fear. Ancient Japanese employed the word "kashikoshi" to express a sense of fear that came together with a sense of respect toward transcendental existences such as divinities or emperors. A sense of fear in the word "kashikoshi" faded, and it was gradually replaced by a sense of respect or a sense of gratitude. In modern times, the word "kashikoi", derived from "kashikoshi", describes a state of excellence or superiority, particularly the quality of being clever and sensible that usually brings a feeling of admiration from others. In Thai, the word "kreng" has come to be used for the expression of respect or deference as well as a fear or worry. Originally, it was used to express a respectful feeling toward a ruling king from the divine spirits, as found in "Silajaruek Pho Khun Ramkamhaeng" (Stone Inscription of King Ramkamhaeng), the earliest known inscribed stone of Siamese in Sukhothai period (1238-1438 A.D.). The word began to emphasize a stronger sense of fear toward the divine right of the Kings when absolute monarchy was introduced during the Ayuthaya period (1351-1767 A.D.). The extended meaning came to include a sense of worry. The current usage can be found in the compound word "kreng jai" (to be considerate, to be afraid of offending or making a trouble on others), which is regarded as the most distinctive Thai cultural value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-54
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of the Humanities
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Bibliographical note

Copyright Common Ground and The Author/s. Article originally published in International journal of the humanities, Vol. 8, No. 10, pp.45-54. This version archived on behalf of the author/s and is available for individual, non-commercial use. Permission must be sought from the publisher to republish or reproduce or for any other purpose.


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