Fear and Respect: Overlap of Emotional Domain in the Japanese and Thai Lexicons

By Chavalin Svetanant.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Feelings of fear as well as feelings of respect are language-specific. They occasionally occur separately but they are also likely to share the same emotional domain. When fear and respect are combined, the result is either a feeling of “awe” which implies a sense of fear rather than respect, or a feeling of “reverence” which implies a sense of respect rather than fear.

Ancient Japanese employed the word “kashikoshi” to express a sense of fear that came together with a sense of respect toward transcendental existences such as divinities or emperors. A sense of fear in the word “kashikoshi” faded, and it was gradually replaced by a sense of respect or a sense of gratitude. In modern times, the word “kashikoi”, derived from “kashikoshi”, describes a state of excellence or superiority, particularly the quality of being clever and sensible that usually brings a feeling of admiration from others.

In Thai, the word “kreng” has come to be used for the expression of respect or deference as well as a fear or worry. Originally, it was used to express a respectful feeling toward a ruling king from the divine spirits, as found in “Silajaruek Pho Khun Ramkamhaeng” (Stone Inscription of King Ramkamhaeng), the earliest known inscribed stone of Siamese in Sukhothai period (1238-1438 A.D.). The word began to emphasize a stronger sense of fear toward the divine right of the Kings when absolute monarchy was introduced during the Ayuthaya period (1351-1767 A.D.). The extended meaning came to include a sense of worry. The current usage can be found in the compound word “kreng jai” (to be considerate, to be afraid of offending or making a trouble on others), which is regarded as the most distinctive Thai cultural value.

Keywords: Emotion Words, Fear, Respect, Thai, Japanese

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 10, pp.45-54. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 2.109MB).

Dr. Chavalin Svetanant

Associate Lecturer, Department of International Studies, Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Dr. Chavalin Svetanant is a full-time lecturer at the Department of International Studies, Faculty of Arts, Macquarie University. She was awarded PhD in Cultural and Regional Studies (Japanese Linguistics) from Kyoto University in 2003. Her research concerns “Language”, “Thought” and “Culture” in comparative semantic system and cultural contexts. Her major publications include “A Comparative Study of Heart and Mind–related Words in Thai and Japanese” (2001), “Yasashi: An Adjective with Emotive Connotation” (2002), “Word History of ‘kreng’” (2003), “Ancient Japanese Literature in Thailand and Introduction of Ancient Thai Literature”(2005), “Good or Evil?: Perspectives from Japanese Proverbs and Expression.” (2006),“Cultural Conception of “Ki” and “Kokoro”: Linguistic Perspectives on Japanese and Thai Mentality” (2007), A Half-Century in Thai Studies, Book Translation from Michi wa Hirakeru: Tai Kenkyu no Goju Nen written by Yoneo Ishii (2007), “The State of Japanese Studies in Thailand” (2007), “Tertiary Education of Japanese Language Study: Case Study of Australia and Thailand” (2008), ‘Revealing Linguistic Power: Discourse Practice toward “Youth” in Japanese and Thai Newspapers’(2009).


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