I'm not a native english speaker, but I guess that "what emotion", while, from what others are saying in this thread, is said, it's just not that idiomatic, I myself never having heard it, and if I have I can't really remember. That said, I put in "what a thrill", something I hear english speakers say very often, with full expectation that I'd lose a heart, and it was accepted.
What emotion! might refer to the emotional expression of a performer, perhaps a singer who sings with great emotion and someone remarks "What emotion [she's displaying (understood)]!
"What an emotion!" refers to A particular emotion, "an emotion", referring to the character of the feeling. Perhaps a person who is extremely jealous, having been jilted, still feels great love for the person who has upset them, the ex-lover. "What an emotion" that would be, what A confused and troubling emotion! So: the emphasis is on not the expression of the feeling but on the character of the particular emotion. The indefinite article focuses the attention on the noun itself. At least that's the best I can do without any context, which i wish DL would provide, bc of course I may be missing something.
The reason I put "what emotion" rather than "what an emotion" is because of the exclamation point, I believe either should be accepted, depending on the context. But that leads me to my real question: Neither of these expressions are ones often heard in English. I have heard the expression "how emotional!", not as a question but as an exclamation. Is there a French equivalent (of the English "how emotional"), and if not, could this be an appropriate translation instead of the rather lukewarm "what an emotion"?
In French, we would adapt the expression to the very situation at stake.
We would indeed use "quelle émotion !" or "quelles émotions !", after a crazy episode of life where our adrenalin has boiled and then we are back to normal.
"How emotional!" (as I understand it, pls correct me if I'm wrong) would be used to describe either a person or a group of person having lost their temper for example (or the 'crisis' itself), and you have been a spectator. In that case, maybe the following could be used: "quelle crise !"; "quelle sortie !" (outburst)...
By the way "émotionnel" exists in French but it is not very much in use outside scientific (psychology) circles.
Do I understand correctly that "quelle émotion!" Is used to describe oneself, but not necessarily the event which precipitated the emotion? (For example you might argue with someone but are now calmed down, you might say of yourself "quelle émotion.) Hmmm. I don't believe in English you would use the words "how emotional" to describe yourself, alone. I cannot think of an example where that might be the case, but I might be wrong - just because I cannot think of an example! It might be used to describe an event where all or many might be emotional, say, at a wedding or a funeral where the speaker, along with all the other witnesses, shared an emotional moment. So I gather, from what you write, I cannot use "how emotional" as a good translation of "quelle émotion". Too bad, I thought I was on to something!
Using the example by mghaz at the top of the page, one could easily say "What emotion!" when referring to an actor's performance, or a play, or a scene within the play, etc... You could easily say "How emotional!" to the same effect, but your tone would probably be different. I see "What emotion!" being used in a "Wow! That was awesome!" kind of excited tone, whereas "How emotional!" would be a more hushed "I feel the actor's pain!" kind of tone. (That's just my opinion, not hardened rules or anything)
To my knowledge, which is 15 years of French immersion/Mother tongue in Quebec's educational system (but done 20 years ago, and you know that I'm very rusty, so please correct me), "Quelle émotion!" could be used in the same situation during/after a play or performance. If you are so moved by a piece of classical music (or heavy metal if you prefer), you could cry out "Quelle émotion!" (What emotion!) during the applause and cries of "Bis!", or turn to your friend after a sad scene in a play where the two lovers both die romantically (une scène très émouvante) and say "Quelle émotion!" (How emotional!) while choking back tears.
"What emotion!" should definitely be accepted in my opinion, and "How emotional!" general captures the same idea in the right context and should probably be accepted too.
Merci beaucoup pour ces exemples bien concrets. Also thanks to ThanKwee as well, who definitely clarified the English.
Now when it comes to French, I confirm we would not use "émotionnel" as an adjective in any of those cases.
We would say
Romeo & Juliet: "comme c'est touchant / émouvant / bouleversant !" or "c'est tellement touchant / émouvant / bouleversant !"
"She's (over) emotional" : "elle est trop / hyper sensible", "elle perd tous ses moyens" .(slang - for your eyes only! : "elle pète un plomb / un câble !")
"I get emotional at weddings / funerals" : "je pleure aux mariages et aux enterrements"
To be emotional means to have strong feelings of love, sadness, fear or anger.
One could say, "I get emotional at funerals" or "She gets emotional when watching romance movies.". This just means that one has a lot of strong feelings about the situation.
To be emotional can also have a disapproving sense to it.
- One could say, "She's overly emotional. She must be depressed."
- "She's emotional" = She tends to get upset easily.
- "He lost control of his emotions" = he was sobbing or very angry and red in the face.
But "she's emotional" could also mean that she's 'fleur bleue'
Mixed emotions = mixed feelings = not sure what to think about a situation
"What an emotion!" is unlikely to be used by a native English speaker. We would most likely say, "What emotion!" It doesn't matter whether we are remarking on a fit of hysterics or the feeling with which something is done. The use of the aritcle "an" could be used when referencing an outburst, but rarely is.
To my mind there is a difference between what emotion and what an emotion.
What an emotion invites the question: which one did you mean? It is indefinite but singular as if with a little more work the emotion can be identified and made definite.
What emotion seems to more about the totality of the sensation.
I don't think anyone listening to some of Nina Simone's songs would would say what an emotion. It would be like saying what a color when looking at a rich, vibrant multi-hued painting. Each color is affected by its juxtaposition to another.
The French example may well mean what an emotion from which I would take it that saying Quelle couleur when looking at that painting, would mean what a color. If that is what Quelle émotion and Quelle couleur mean, (as Duo claims) then how would you exclaim what emotion or what color?
But I must say, when see I quelle émotion with an exclamation mark, I am surprised that what emotion isn't the best answer.
You could say what emotions where appropriate without it seeming unusual or strange.
Actually, in English conversation you could use what an emotion, what emotion, what emotions and listeners would place what ever nuance they felt like and no would much care either way.
It's only an issue here because Duo is saying one is correct. in French. and one is not That surprises some, including me.
To Francophones: in referring to the emotion of a performance, can 'quelle emotion!' mean 'what emotion!"as well? If not, how would it be said. (In case you don't know when we would use 'what emotion!' in English: it is essentially a compliment when referring to a performance…you are saying that the actor or musician made you feel the intended emotion… not sure this helps)
yes, sorry, I had read it, but I couldn't find the answer in there (maybe I missed it). I'm asking mghaz' original question: shouldn't 'what emotion!' be acceptable, and asking as well, if it isn't acceptable, how would one express 'what emotion!'? I've reread it. I see that Hohenems says it would be acceptable in Quebec, but just following, you seem to say no in your reference about Romeo & Juliet (and I believe you are in France). This is how I would describe the nuance of 'what emotion': I would use it, not to describe my reaction to a scene ('comme c'est touchante' if I understand its meaning correctly), but to describe my reaction (a compliment) to the actual acting in an emotional scene('brilliant performance'). Can you help me with this in particular?