If you pick up a British book, a few cultural differences might easily differentiate it from a member of the American canon -- a penchant for spelling words with an extra "u," an unfamiliar slang word...and perhaps the literary equivalent of a stiff upper lip. According to new research, over the last half a century, American writing has shown a significant uptick in emotional words compared books written by our friends across the pond.
A study published in PLOS ONE this week examined books from the last century in Google's Ngram Viewer, a database that visualizes the frequency of certain keywords in more than 5 million tomes, and found that since the mid-century, American and British word usage has diverged.
Tracing the usage of words that convey six moods (joy, surprise, anger, sadness, fear, disgust), the authors found that in general, words that indicate mood have decreased over time -- except fear, a mood that has been enjoying a resurgence since the 1970s. Usage of words that indicate positive and negative emotions also corresponded to larger historical trends. There was an increase in joy during the roaring '20s and the swinging '60s, for example, but a drop toward sadness in during World War II.
During the first half of the 20th century, British books were similar in emotional content -- or even a little more emotional -- than American books. But since 1960, American literature has had more and more emotional "mood" content than their British counterparts. The same trend was found in American and English usage of content-free words like "and," "but" and "the," suggesting that a larger stylistic difference has emerged.
In a statement from the University of Brisol, co-author Alex Bentley, a professor of archaeology and anthropology, explained one possible reason for the divergence:
However, the authors write that while the study certainly reflects a trend in published language, it's uncertain whether or not that trend is present in the population at large.
So it's possible we're not a complete emotional mess. We just want to read about people who are.
Although interesting, this article has little surprise in my eyes. British humor and emotion has always seem less upbeat. Looking past this article, i believe it has traits that are both cultural, and slightly genetic, although i have meet 2nd generation English that have alot of emotion but also seem to have less facial expression when showing it, but there parents are , i guess the word plain, would suit best. There is also the environment there , which is cooler and more cloudy , with longer rain seasons, which may have a effect, putting people in somewhat depressed form. Just an opinion.
USA language is "Engslangish" and just keeps getting worse, lol.