Words of fear cross-linguistically

asked 2019-09-23 06:27:48 -0500

Paola gravatar image

Dear colleagues,

Here in Lausanne we are currently working on an exposition concerning the words of fear, especially those that have taken a positive value throughout time. We have individuated for now three types of words: 1) French "formidable": etymologically related to the feeling of fear (Latin "formidabilis" -> "inspiring fear, frightening, terrifying"), it is now mainly used with the meaning "great, fantastic";

2) English "terrific": also etymologically related to fear (Latin "terreo" -> "to terrorize") it can now be used both with a positive ("amazing") and a negative ("terrible") meaning;

3) French "terriblement", German "schrecklich", English "awfully", adverbs etymologically related to fear and that can nowadays intensify an adjective in both a positive and a negative way.

We would like to ampliate the list as much as possible with words matching these three categories and coming from as many languages as possible. Do you happen to have any ideas and feel like you would like to contribute to our list? If so, please feel free to contact us. Thank you!

The WoPoss team: Helena Bermúdez Sabel, Francesca Dell’Oro, Paola Marongiu

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