Emotions in language

Here in Georgia, we just had Easter and my parents-in-law had friends over for partying and drinking. When they came, I was in my room taking the baby to bed and I heard people screaming at each other in high voices.

In my German family, to scream at each other like that would certainly mean that people would get very angry and not talk with each other for several days or even weeks. So I was a little concerned.
When my husband came up and I asked him what they were arguing about, he said that they were just speaking about an opportunity for business his parents’ friend Nana had lost a year ago. In other words, an animated chat between friends in Georgia can seem quite aggressive to Germans.

Have you ever had an experience like that?

Great topic!

I have heard that about Russian too. They sound angry to North American ears when they could just be making small talk about the weather.

The Japanese are famous in North America for their “inscrutability” emotionally. One example is they smile in situations that Americans would show a sad face, for example in announcing the death of a family member to a colleague. This is because they feel embarrassed at burdening their colleague with the sadness of the news. So they cover it up with a smile. In the same vein, they will nod when they understand a point in a conversation, which Americans take as agreement, but which they think of as “I am listening” only.

For me the most of Caucasians are too emotional :)) And Ukrainians :slight_smile:
I can’t say that the most of Russians speak loud… Russia is very big, there are a lot of different nations… When I was a teenager, my friends often asked me to speak in a low voice. I was the only who spoke loud in our company. Now I speak low, but I am still very emotional :)))

We, Russians, during conversations also nod, and when speak by phone sometimes say “yes… yes… yes…” It is just indication of listening.

Among Russian nations that leave in my region, I find that Bashkirians are rather quite, and Tartars are rather loud. Being a half of Bashkirian and Tartar, sometimes I am loud and sometimes quite :)))

I think everyone is loud. I also think we need to hear a lot of conversations before we can really get any kind of feel. My father a native Spanish speaking once said that he heard two French people speaking and it didn’t sound like such a beautiful language and that it sounded rough. He also thought a group of Germans were angry during the World Cup when they were beating Argentina, when they were actually quite happy.

It’s all in the ear of the beholder I guess…


I think that Americans also say "yes… yes… " to indicate comprehension without agreement. I think it is the tone with which we say it. We would say it with a rising intonation,“yeeSS” or “uh-UH”— with a questioning tone. On the other hand, the Japanese generally say it with a dropping intonation. To Americans this indicates agreement but Japanese think of it as comprehension only. These are generalisations, of course.