Pæn, flot, dejlig, and lækker: A lexical anthropology of Danish folk aesthetics

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This paper examines the Danish language of aesthetics from the perspective of four untranslatable adjectives: pæn, flot, dejlig, and lækker. These words are frequent and salient in everyday discourses, and as such they shed light on Danish “folk” conceptions. From the perspective of Lexical Anthropology and NSM Semantics, each of the words are explored and explicated in order to shed light on the ways in which Danish discourse organize positive aesthetic experiences. Sensitive to polysemy, and the variety of lexicogrammatical frames in which the words occur, the paper provides a high-resolution analyses of the “something ADJ frame” which enables discourses of design, food, and art. Based on lexical semantic evidence, the paper locates two themes in Danish discourse: “aesthetic normality” and “ordinary hedonism” which seem to act as cognitive axes around which discourses revolve. The paper argues that words hold the key to understanding the diversity of aesthetic cultures, and that untranslatables in particular, allow for a deep emic understanding of how local configurations of seeing, feeling, touching, and thinking are constituted.
TidsskriftInternational Journal of Language and Culture
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)14–34
Antal sider13
StatusUdgivet - 7 jun. 2021
BegivenhedIIIV International Symposium on Intercultural, Cognitive and Social Pragmatics: EPICS - Seville, Spanien
Varighed: 2 maj 20184 maj 2018


KonferenceIIIV International Symposium on Intercultural, Cognitive and Social Pragmatics


  • Danish semantics
  • Folk aesthetics
  • Semantic typology
  • Lexical Semantic
  • Lexical Anthropology
  • NSM semantics
  • Linguistic Anthropology

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