Happy Bastards. Human Languages Are Just Happier
human languages happier

The University of Vermont is out with an interesting study. All human languages are biased towards happiness and cultures gravitate towards using positive words over negative words.

I’m going out on a limb and assuming researchers did not watch cable news or listen to sports radio. Never do you listen to that for an hour and come away with a smile, thinking, ‘what a happy bunch of people.’ More like thoughts of violence and depression.

The study is in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and ranks the ten happiest languages – Spanish, Portuguese, English, German, French, Indonesian, Russian, Arabic, Korean, and Chinese.

Judging by that list, it essentially encompasses the world. So, we are the happiest group of jackasses ever. Good to know. Lead author Peter Sheridan Dodds said that humans tend to talk and look on the bright side of things.

I know, we are optimistically cynical. That has to be it.

The study supports the Pollyanna Hypothesis, which states that it’s a universal tendency for humans to use positive words over negative ones. Some languages, like Spanish, do skew happier than others like China.

Yeah, if I lived in a seaside Spanish town, I wouldn’t complain about anything either.

Researchers used tens of billions of words across the globe using 24 media types. Books, social media, television, music, websites and music lyrics were all collated. Social media must have been the outlier here. Or I follow some evil people.

The team then asked native speakers to rate the word on a 1-9 scale using what sounds like emojis. One gets that deep frowning face and a nine gets a big smiley face.

For English, the results looked like this: laughter: 8.5, food: 7.44, truck: 5.48, the: 4.98, greed: 3.06, and terrorist: 1.3.

All 24 sources had words scoring above the baseline average. The team believes the measurements show the overall happiness of a community, social network and large populations.

Now? We wait for Facebook to secretly experiment on us using language scores.

Still, it’s nice to know we are a happy people. It gets lost in what we watch on the news. The world just needs a bit more love. Nothing wrong with that.

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