Time for Feelings. Linguistic analyses of emotional thematization in German pop music
Through feelings, we are able to orient and adjust ourselves to the world around us. Expressing and discussing feelings thus becomes an inseparable component of our daily life. As a result, every cultural community has a complex of social rules for the emotions present in our inner life as well as those outwardly displayed and observable; emotions of both types are seen in texts and conversations.
The present work adopts this psychological, sociological, philosophical and ethnological standpoint in its attempt to reveal the world of emotions via a linguistic approach. The material to be examined consists of German pop songs from the last three decades. These texts reflect various ways of verbalizing emotions, but may also assume the function of culturally molded ideals and patterns which subsequent emotional thematizations can conform to. The goal of the research is an analysis of the discursive means employed, as we seek to discover the principles by which emotions in a given text type are conceptualized, given the assumption that during verbalization certain aspects will be emphasized and others downtoned or even ignored.
In pop songs, the situational context and the relevant text type invariably have a clear link to recurrent cultural knowledge. By presenting the situational scenario, and employing non-verbal indications of feeling and textual sequences that describe symptoms, and then linking them to formal language units such as emotional words, phrases and other trigger words, we can clearly observe the role of language as a medium for storing cultural knowledge, while simultaneously providing a means for interpreting and retaining personal experiences.
It can further be noted that in these text types we find a selection of codified and conventionalized means of expression which admittedly must obey the traditional text patterns of pop, but which also permit it to adapt to the spirit of the times and allow the author a certain degree of freedom. Thus, tradition and the innovations of the times are combined, a fusion which calls into question the widespread belief in the sentimentality and banality of German pop music.
Gunter Narr, Tübingen , 2005. , 144 p.