第三講：情緒與文化 Expressions of Emotions–and Inner Feelings–in Kilivila, the Language of the Trobriand Islanders: A Descriptive and Methodological Critical Discussion
講者：Gunter Senft 教授
This lecture addresses some crucial methodological difficulties encountered in the study of the relationship between human emotions, facial expression and language. By exposing a group of Trobriand Islanders to two different experiments, Senft attempts to answer three questions: Can emotions be expressed through language or are they rather ineffable? Do speakers agree on the ways they name expressions? Do facial expression or context give better clues than language to the labeling of human emotions?
The answer to all these questions shows the limitations of existing research methods. The “Ekman faces method”, for instance, relies on the belief that human expressions are universal. The reaction of the Trobriand Islanders to a set of photographs representing allegedly basic ‘universal’ expressions, proves the inaccuracy of this method: There is almost no coincidence between Ekman’s typology and the answers provided by the consultants.
Another more sophisticated method, the film-based “Mind Reading Emotions Library,” provides better result and higher coincidence. While this method develops a categorization of human emotions based on English, Trobriand Islanders seem to categorize a big number of expressions in a similar way. However, methodological doubts persist insofar as the MREL provides with staged emotions; further research is necessary in order to reach evidence on the relation between emotions and their linguistic expression.
INTRODUCTION OF THE LECTURE SERIES
In this series of five lectures, Prof. Senft will introduce some anthropological and linguistical perspectives on the study of the relation between language, culture and cognition. Prof. Senft’s main subject of research is the culture of the Trobriand Islanders and their language, Kivilila, one of the 40 Austronesian languages spoken in the Milne Bay province of Papua New Guinea.
By presenting the results of his long-term field research with the Trobrianders, Prof. Senft addresses crucial questions for linguistics, anthropology, philosophy and other fields of human sciences. For instance: Is there evidence for the hypothesis of “linguistic relativism”, i.e. the idea that language influences (or determines) thought? How does language influence perception (for instance, how do different linguistic categorizations of space influence the way we perceive space)? What is the role of language in the expression and control of human emotions? Do natural languages rely on universal categories? Or are linguistic categories rather culture-related?
Prof. Senft’s lectures will not only provide with rich insights into possible answers to all these questions, they will also address relevant methodological suggestions for the researcher in the Humanities. Above all, Prof. Senft’s research stresses the importance of being “on a common ground” with the researched communities: that is, to be able to understand the complexity of categories and linguistic strategies developed by native speakers. Only then will it be possible to reduce the impact of the linguistic and cultural presuppositions of the researcher.