Not everyone enjoys being loved, but I like it: A contrastive study of three feeling-denoting verbs in English and Norwegian

Øyvind Thormodsæter

Idiomatic use of verbs denoting feelings requires a high command of a language, since such verbs are liable to subjective interpretation both in terms of their inherent intensity and their acceptability in context, and also because their usage to a large extent will be governed by cultural conventions. As such, verbs denoting feelings are interesting from a phraseological point of view, in which context-appropriate multi-word units are thought to be at the core of language production.

This presentation reports on a segment of a larger study of the phraseology of the three English-Norwegian verb pairs ENJOY-NYTE, LOVE-ELSKE and LIKE-LIKE. The study seeks to find out what correspondence patterns and translation paradigms may reveal about similarities and differences between the lexemes in the two languages, how similar meaning is conveyed in the two languages, and how English native speakers and Norwegian learners of English use and understand the English lexemes similarly and differently in context. LOVE, LIKE and ENJOY fit the criteria mentioned: they have overlapping meanings and connotations, their usage will be governed partly by cultural conventions, and they intuitively belong to different parts of the emotional “intensity scale”, which makes them eligible for analysis both from an L1 and an L1-L2 perspective. The Norwegian verbs ELSKE, NYTE and LIKE were chosen for comparison because they are considered the closest equivalents of the respective English verbs based on listings in a number of authoritative bilingual dictionaries.

In this investigation, recurrent sequences including the lexemes will be investigated to determine their selectional preferences in original and translated texts in both languages with the intention of mapping cross-linguistic similarities and differences in use and lexicogrammatical features. The investigation will primarily be corpus-based, and the methodology used is largely based on Gilquin’s (2000/2001: 98-101) modified version of Granger’s (1994) Integrated Contrastive Model, in which Contrastive Analysis (CA) between languages is combined with Contrastive Interlanguage Analysis (CIA). In addition to a qualitative analysis of a selection of examples and a lexicogrammatical categorisation of the material inspired by Hunston and Francis’ (2000) pattern grammar, Altenberg’s (1999: 254) formula for calculating mutual correspondence (MC) will be used to indicate the level of correspondence between the lexemes in the bidirectional CA part of the study. Data will be extracted from various corpora for the different parts of the investigation, including the ENPC and the written part of the BNC and LBK for the Contrastive Analysis and BAWE, MICUSP, ICLE and a self-compiled corpus of Norwegian upper-secondary student texts in English and Norwegian for the CIA analysis. This data will finally be compared to data from an elicitation test in order to address the following research questions:

  1.  What can an analysis of the lexicogrammatical features and translation paradigms of three English-Norwegian verb pairs denoting feeling tell us about: 
    a. The level of correspondence between the English and the Norwegian verbs in terms of meaning, usage and selectional preferences/collocations?
    b. The level of consistency in meaning in the individual lexicogrammatical pattern for each verb?
  2. a. Is there a systematic difference in how English native speakers and Norwegian learners use and understand these and semantically related verbs?
    b. To what extent can the differences in usage be seen as a result of lexicogrammatical differences between the two languages?

The segment presented here will draw on data from the ENPC, and will address questions 1a and 1b. Preliminary searches indicate some clear differences between e.g. ENJOY and NYTE, both in terms of semantic preferences, semantic scope and structural features. In brief, ENJOY is more versatile than NYTE both semantically and syntactically, and NYTE more consistently expresses a strong emotion or intensity. Several patterns have a relatively consistent meaning in the examples found, particularly verb + pronouns and verb + non-finite clauses. Examples of ENJOY being translated into ELSKE [LOVE] and LIKE [LIKE] and of NYTE being translated into LOVE and LIKE indicate an overlap in meaning between the lexemes across languages, as exemplified in (1)-(3) below:

  1. […] it occurred to him that she was just the sort of woman who would enjoy ten minutes' sex while changing for dinner, […]. (FW1)
    […] det slo ham at hun var akkurat den type kvinne som ville nyte [enjoy] ti minutters sex mens hun skiftet til middag, […]. (FW1T)
  2. She did, however, enjoy the people sitting around and talking, the sociable atmosphere, […]. (DL1)
    Men hun likte [liked] at folk satt rundt og pratet, den selskapelige atmosfæren, […]. (DL1T)
  3. […] he enjoyed watching the way his canvases drank up black […]. (JH1)
    […] han elsket [loved] å se hvordan lerretene suget til seg sort […]. (JH1T)

The preliminary analysis of ENJOY also lends support to Sinclair’s (1999: 158) claim that words often do not express what is considered their “core meaning”, and that “few [words] have a clear meaning independent of the cotext” (ibid). Also, the initial analysis shows a relatively low mutual correspondence of 25 % between ENJOY and NYTE, which indicates that there are clear areas of contrast across the two languages. These findings largely concur with Johansson’s (2007) findings about LOVE and HATE and their Norwegian counterparts ELSKE and HATE, indicating that some contrastive points are relevant for more than the individual verb pair.

Altenberg, B. (1999). “Adverbial connectors in English and Swedish: A corpus-based contrastive study”. In H. Hasselgård and S. Oksefjell (Eds) Out of corpora: Studies in honour of Stig Johansson, pp. 249-268. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
Gilquin, G. (2000/1). “The ICM: Spicing up your data”. In S. Bernadini, H. Hasselgård & S. Johansson (Eds) Languages in Contrast. Vol 3 (1), pp. 95-123.
Granger, S. (1994). “From CA to CIA and back”. In K. Aijmer, B. Altenberg and M. Johansson (Eds), Languages in Contrast: Papers from a Symposium on Cross-linguistic Studies, pp. 37-52.
Hunston, S., & Francis, G. (2000). Pattern grammar : a corpus-driven approach to the lexical grammar of English. Studies in Corpus Linguistics Vol. 4. Amsterdam: John Benjamins
Johansson, S. (2007). “Loving and hating in English and Norwegian”. In Johansson (Ed) Seeing through Multilingual Corpora: On the use of corpora in contrastive studies. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Sinclair, J. (1999). “A way with common words”. In H. Hasselgård and S. Oksefjell (Eds) Out of corpora: Studies in honour of Stig Johansson, pp. 157-179.

Publisert 29. aug. 2018 12:11 - Sist endret 29. aug. 2018 12:11