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When researchers think about the interaction between language and emotion, they typically focus on descriptive emotion words. This review demonstrates that emotion can interact with language at many levels of structure, from the sound patterns of a language to its lexicon and grammar, and beyond to how it appears in conversation and discourse. Findings are considered from diverse subfields across the language sciences, including cognitive linguistics, psycholinguistics, linguistic anthropology, and conversation analysis. Taken together, it is clear that emotional expression is finely tuned to language-specific structures. Future emotion research can better exploit cross-linguistic variation to unravel possible universal principles operating between language and emotion. © 2012 The Author(s).

Original publication




Journal article


Emotion Review

Publication Date





432 - 443