Language is more than words – Part 2



In part 1, we looked at the different ways of greeting others across the world. Now let’s look at more language without words!

Darwin claimed that humans have six universal facial expressions to communicate happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, disgust, and anger. But is that really true? Recent research by Glasgow University has actually shown that different cultures express their emotions using different facial expressions. For example, a European will often express and recognise an emotion by the movement of the mouth, whereas Asian cultures tend to express and recognise strong emotion with eye activity.

But what about expressing emotions through text? We might want to do this if we are sending a private message on busuu, or using the busuutalk text chat. Interestingly, expression of emotions via emoticons also varies between cultures, but is largely based on the same differences involved in facial expressions:

  • European emoticons show differences in the mouth, for example 🙂 and 😮
  • Asian emoticons focus more on the eyes, for example (^_^) and (o.o)

Why not try this out next time you send a busuu private message or chat in busuutalk?

Have you noticed that facial expressions and emoticons vary between cultures? Do you think you express your emotions more with your eyes or mouth? Share your opinion by leaving a comment below.


  1. I tend to think that I use both my mouth and eyes to express emotions. Even people who I have never met before can tell just by the look on my face what I am thinking/feeling, my friends say my face is a dead give away!

  2. I’m an American; I express strong feelings with my eyes and hands. I watch people as I go along, and it apears to me that people would likely go into spontaneous combustion, if their hands were tied to their waste. I think hands can be used casually and to express intense feeling.

  3. i really do express my emotions through mouth movements and the eyes.for example when i am suprise i open my mouth and eyes at the same time.

  4. Hi, I am Haitian , I am doing to use my facial to marke my happiness, my sadness, my surprise, my fear my, disgust and my anger. Then my eyes when I am happy they become very good, but when I am anger my eyes become red and when I am fear my face make sadness. But, yet I am not a bad man! I am more polite eventhaugh the color the my face I am always staying a good man. Thank you verey much.

  5. The subject here is about sign and body language. It is up to an individual to express himself, where is the question of being European or Asian. Anybody who has the knowledge or read books on body language can prove u wrong. Film stars have to go through a process of adaptation before they perform a role , it could be an french legionnaire, Hitlers army, American or an Arab. How could i forget Sir William Shakespeare drama dialogue ” The world is a stage” I hope u know the rest of it.


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