sahux009: November 2011 Archives


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The Mayans and their culture have always been a mystery to the world. The Yucatán Mayan people do not have a word for disgust.

The Mayans that were a part of an emotions without language study are from the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. Their language database is smaller when it comes to describing emotions. Compared to the Yucatán Mayans, the Germans have a larger database of emotions to choose from. To start the study, researchers from MPI Psycholinguistics and Evolutionary Anthropology took subjects that spoke the Yucatán Mayan language and they took subjects that spoke German. After showing both a collection that contained emotional photos of disgust and anger, the German speaking people described the two emotions differently. The Mayans, on the other hand, described those two emotions the same. This showed that the Mayans had no specific word for the disgust emotion. This is very interesting to me. I don't know why they do not have a different word. I would think they still experience the emotion at times. They must use a unique linguistic system, or they must group emotional descriptions more generally.

They also conducted a second test. They used this test to see how the Mayans language transferred to their view of emotions. They showed the subjects a picture of a mixed emotion. Then they took the photo away, and showed two other photos. One of the photos was the original, and the other was the same person with a "slightly different" emotion. In some pairs the dominant emotion changed, in others it remained the same. For many of the photos, the subjects were asked which of the two they had just seen.

The results showed that they did the same as the German speakers. They performed better when the two faces they chose from were dominated by different emotions.

We were talking about how there are emotions that are internationally understood or "universal". This study proves this, there may be no word for disgust in the Yucatán Mayan language, however they were able to perform just as well as a German speaking person. One of the things that intrigues me is how these expressions are so universal. How could they reach everywhere in the world? I think that the answer to this is because they live in the same world. Some experiences will be the same. For example, no matter where one is in the world there is death. People generally are sad when someone dies. Also, around the world there are celebrations for various different occasions, and for that people are happy. I think life experiences and human interaction make these emotions universal more than any other reason.



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