The Old English vocabulary of emotions: glossing affectus

Antonina Harbus

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


It has become clear that the terminology around emotions in relation to semantic range and translation across cultures is particularly complex and problematic, on both linguistic and cross-cultural levels. All of the usual issues with linguistic translation pertain to this problem—including varying degrees of host and target language equivalence with non-aligning semantic range, interpreting idiomatic language, indistinct lexical interchangeability, and the rhetorical and political implications of motivated practices of translation. This linguistic complexity is especially acute, given our need to acknowledge the experiential variety and fluidity of the emotional life at both individual and social levels, and also to understand that the spectrum of experience is broken up quite distinctly in different languages, with various emphases, sub-categories, affective relationships, and expressive norms. The polyvalence of many terms and context-specific delimitation make it even harder to make general comments about historical affect or its linguistic expression.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBefore emotion
Subtitle of host publicationthe language of feeling, 400-1800
EditorsJuanita Feros Ruys, Michael W. Champion, Kirk Essary
Place of PublicationNew York ; London
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780429023279
ISBN (Print)9780367086022
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Medieval Literature and Culture


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