Volume 10 Number 1-2
  • ISSN 0929-0907
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9943
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This paper examines the use and meaning of the body-part terms or quasi-body part terms associated with Japanese emotions. The terms analyzed are kokoro, mune, hara, ki, and mushi. In Japanese kokoro is regarded as the seat of emotions. Mune (roughly, ‘chest’) is the place where Japanese believe kokoro is located. Hara (roughly, ‘belly’) can be used to refer to the seat of ‘thinking’, for example in expression of anger-like feelings which entail a prior cognitive appraisal. The term ki (roughly, ‘breath’) is also used for expressions dealing with emotions, temperament, and behaviour; among these, ki is mostly frequently used for referring to mental activity. Mushi — literally, a ‘worm’ which exists in the hara ‘belly’ — is also used for referring to specific emotion expressions.

The tool for semantic analysis employed in this paper is the “Natural Semantic Metalanguage” method developed by Anna Wierzbicka and colleagues. This metalanguage enables us to explicate concepts by means of simple words and grammar (easily translated across languages), and clarifies the similarities and dissimilarities between the components involved in semantically similar terms. The data used for analysis are from various sources; published literature both in Japanese and English, newspaper/magazine articles, film scripts, comic books, advertisements, dictionaries, and popular songs.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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