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This article presents the first systematic typological study of emotional expressions involving body parts at the scale of a continent, in this case the Australian continent. The role of body parts in figurative descriptions of emotions, a well-established phenomenon across the world, is known to be widespread in Australian languages. This article presents a typology of body-based emotional expressions across a balanced sample of 67 languages, where at least 30 distinct body parts occur in emotional expressions. The belly is by far the most frequent, and a dozen others also have significant representations. The study shows how the properties of these body parts – e.g., whether they are internal organs or visible facial parts – partly determines which historical scenarios led to their linguistic associations with emotions, and in turn, their semantic and figurative properties.
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