Top 10 Happiest Languages

Human language is biased toward being happy, finds a new study that identifies 10 of the world’s most upbeat languages.

Human language is biased toward being happy, finds a new study that identifies 10 of the world’s most upbeat languages.

The study, published in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, supports the Pollyanna Hypothesis, which holds that there is a universal human tendency to use positive words more frequently than negative ones. Nevertheless, the findings determined that some languages tend to skew happier than others.

“The study’s findings are based on 5 million individual human scores and pave the way for the development of powerful language-based tools for measuring emotion,” Dodds and his team wrote.

No. 10 Chinese. Websites and books among other sources were analyzed in the study. Chinese books scored the lowest for happiness among all included sources.

No. 9. Korean wound up as the ninth happiest language among those studied. The researchers used what they call a “hedonometer,” aka a “happiness meter.” This computer-based tool analyzes Twitter and other social media, along with newspapers and other sources. When studying Korean, the researchers used the hedonometer to examine movie subtitles.

No. 8. Arabic came in at No. 8 on the list, which doesn’t necessarily correlate with how happy people are in any given culture or part of the world at a particular time.

Dodds said that “in every source we looked at, people use more positive than negative ones (so) it seems that positive social interaction” is built into the fundamental structure of all languages.

Yet the “happiness meter” can reveal the overall tone of communications for a language, such as Arabic, in a defined source, such as movie and TV subtitles. The meter may go up or down at any time, reflecting the collective average tone of the words chosen by the writers.

No. 7. Russian landed in seventh place, based on analysis of sources such as Google Books, movie subtitles, and TV subtitles.

The researchers also examined famous works of literature, including Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.” A graph was created to show the emotional highs and lows, which were quite extreme for this 19th century classic.

No. 6. Indonesian came in sixth. Each source used in the study, however, scored differently when compared to those for other languages. For example, Indonesian movie subtitles rated higher, in terms of more positive human language usage, than Indonesian tweets.

The Twitter database used for the entire study was enormous: "We collected roughly 100 billion words written in tweets," said co-author Chris Danforth, a University of Vermont mathematician.

No. 5. Based on Google web crawls, Twitter, Google Books and other analyzed materials, French came in at No. 5 on the list.

The numeral 5 was also significant in the study, because it represented a neutral rating. The study also looked at the French classic novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas. The book consists of 100,081 words, with the meter registering a strong upward spike right at the book’s end.

No. 4. German landed in the No. 4 spot. The researchers looked at music lyrics, web sites and Twitter, among other sources. Google Books in German received a high score.

No. 3. English came in third place on the list. The “happiness meter” has since been used to discern different happiness signals in U.S. states and cities. The latest data puts Boulder, Colo., in the No. 1 spot. Conversely, Racine, Wisc., is at the bottom.

The study considered Vermont the happiest state at the moment, based on the hedonometer, while Louisiana is the saddest.

No. 2. The Romance language Portuguese was highly rated, earning it the No. 2 spot. The top 100,000 of its most frequently used words were rated by Portuguese-speaking residents of Brazil. The study even included colloquial terms such as “hahaha” (in English) and the laughter-signifying “kkkkkk” in Portuguese.

No. 1. The happiest language of all, according to the study, is Spanish. The researchers did not look at actual feelings of happiness by the speakers of the various languages, so it remains unclear if Spanish individuals tend to have a brighter outlook on life than other cultures.

Co-author Lewis Mitchell from the University of Adelaide said, “It doesn’t matter whether it’s English, Spanish, Russian or Chinese -- the words that make up our languages are universally biased towards positive emotions.”

Discovery News |  BY JENNIFER VIEGAS

Top
We use cookies to improve our website. By continuing to use this website, you are giving consent to cookies being used. More details…