On “Disgust”

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Using the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) approach, this study explores conceptualisations of "disgust" in English via semantic analysis of descriptive adjectives (disgusted and disgusting) and interjections (Ugh! and Yuck!). As well as drawing out some subtle meaning differences between these expressions, this exercise establishes that there is no one-to-one mapping between the meanings of descriptive emotion lexemes, on the one hand, and expressive interjections, on the other. More broadly, this study seeks to advance the semantic study of “disgust-like” concepts in a cross-linguistic perspective, first, by highlighting aspects of meaning which differ between the English expressions and their near-equivalents in other languages, such as German, French and Polish, and second, by proposing a set of touchstone semantic components that can help facilitate cross-linguistic investigation.


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