Thursday, April 4, 2013

Emoting the economic collapse?

A new study has found that over the long course of time, we have become less emotive in our writing.  Although we seem like a pretty weepy bunch to me, and the study does confirm that Americans are more weepy than Brits, anyone who has read H.P. Lovecraft's adjective larded horror stories (pulp fare of the 1920s) will understand that we are more restrained in our language today.
But there some other interesting items.

Overwritten, Maybe, But Less Overwrought
Tom Jacobs, 20 March 2013 (ht: Freakonomics)

Researchers mining a Google books database report a decline in mood-related words in English-language books over the past 100 years.
Both of those trends are fascinating, for different reasons. Recent research has found a strong link between disgust sensitivity and social conservatism. Does the decline in references to disgust signal an increasingly liberal society, at least on issues such as gay marriage?
It’s also worth noting that the rise in fear-related terms coincides with what has been called “the great risk shift,” in which middle-class incomes have stagnated even as employment has become less secure. That insecurity seems to be reflected in our writing.


JaneofVirginia said...

I think we emote less because others are uncomfortable with it. My blog which is nuts and bolts on preparedness sees more traffic than my blog which concerns emotional survival after loss, spirituality and the feelings of a family following a terrible loss. People read for instant flat insight, not for the progression of feelings or insight into the human experience.

PioneerPreppy said...

Interesting. I hadn't really noticed either actually but I never really looked.

russell1200 said...

Jane, I think the loss of a son, or any child, is so painful for many people to think about that many would avoid it. That not be the bravest way to act, but I think it is understandable.

If I had to give an answer, I would guess that as individuals we feel a little more remote and numbed to reality, and our language to some degree reflects that. Two world wars and a lot of technology have had their effect.