What is it about?

What in English is communicated via four different words (sorrow, ache, pain and hurt), can be expressed in Spanish with one word only: dolor (and its derivative, doler, 'to hurt'). This paper argues that how people experience pain depends on the culture they live in and the language they speak.

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Why is it important?

This paper shows clearly that we cannot use English conceptual grid starightforwardly to talk about physical and emotional phenomena, such as pain, while talking to people from other linguistic backgrounds. They may have different words to talk about 'bad feelings caused by something bad happening in their body (or their soul)", and their understanding of pain may simply differ from ours.


I hope that this article's findings can be important not only for linguists, but also for health professionals, especially the ones dealing with patients whose first language is Spanish.

Zuzanna Bulat Silva
Uniwersytet Wroclawski

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Some remarks on “pain” in Latin American Spanish, International Journal of Language and Culture, October 2014, John Benjamins,
DOI: 10.1075/ijolc.1.2.06bul.
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