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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Mental Health

Positivity of the English Language
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Author: Isabel M. Kloumann et al.

by Isabel M. Kloumann, Christopher M. Danforth, Kameron Decker Harris, Catherine A. Bliss, Peter Sheridan Dodds

Over the last million years, human language has emerged and evolved as a fundamental instrument of social communication and semiotic representation. People use language in part to convey emotional information, leading to the central and contingent questions: (1) What is the emotional spectrum of natural language? and (2) Are natural languages neutrally, positively, or negatively biased? Here, we report that the human-perceived positivity of over 10,000 of the most frequently used English words exhibits a clear positive bias. More deeply, we characterize and quantify distributions of word positivity for four large and distinct corpora, demonstrating that their form is broadly invariant with respect to frequency of word use.
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