Unspeakableness
An Intervention of Language Evolution and Human Communication
A Project by Pei-Ying Lin
Investigation in Emotion Classification

This is the early stage research of the project. In late January, 2012, I emailed around Royal College of Art asking for words describing emotions in languages other than English that are untranslatable into English. Interesting enough, in order to understand the untranslatable words I had to have several correspondence with the person who contributed the word, and through this back-and-forth discussion can I actually get the glimpse of the emotion itself. These explanation of the untranslatable words are often in the format of "it is a kind of (emotion A), close to (emotion B), and somehow between (emotion C) and (emotion D)." This triggers me to map out the emotions based on the classification of emotions provided in Shaver et al. - "Emotion Knowledge - Futher Exploration of a Prototype Approach." in the book Emotions in Social Psychology by W. Parrott (2001). Which I intended to visualised the untranslatable words as chemical molecules that reacts with the emotion "nodes" to the fact that untranslatable words are often complicated emotions that are the mixture of other translatable emotions.

Notices
2013/01/23

The first part of the project: Part 1 - The Untranslatable Words has been featured in several media including Visua.ly, io9, The Globe and Mail, The Atlantic, PopSci, and Salon, as well as BBC Radio Global Service. Thank you for all the support.

There were also many requests for the prints of the visualizations in Part 1 - The Untranslatable Words. Good news that there will be prints for sale if you want high quality prints. Bad news is that it will take a while. So please drop me a line if you would like to have prints. It will be available internationally. Meanwhile, for recognizing all the helps I have got for this project, I feel there is an obligation to make it available to whoever find the visualization helpful. So the infographics will be licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. I will be very happy to know how they are being put to use.


[ Errata ]

Corrections to the Estonian word "Viitsima", it should be "ei viitsi" as "can't be bothered". My apologies to all the Estonian speakers.





Parrott's Classification of Human Emotions (Click to see full-resolution)
Creative Commons License
Parrott's Classification of Human Emotions by Pei-Ying Lin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.




Untranslatable Words in Languages other than English, v.s. Parrott's Classification (Click to see full-resolution)
Creative Commons License
Untranslatable Words in Languages other than English, v.s. Parrott's Classification by Pei-Ying Lin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.




New emotions invented by the Internet (Click to see full-resolution)
Creative Commons License
New emotions invented by the Internet by Pei-Ying Lin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The Untranslatable Words

The Untranslatable Words Database is a collection of videos which people were asked to explain the untranslatable words in their native language with that lanaguage to the imaginary audience who doesn't understand the language. It is an attempt to capture the essense of the emotion-related words in different languages through voice, body language, and facial expressions.


The Untranslatable Words Database (Click to enter)