Two questions about this research:
(1) How did the researchers account for operational language profiles? Language A may have more negative words than positive words, but maybe the one happy word is used 80% of the time. To me, the incidence of positive vs. negative usage is much more important than the histogram of the available vocabulary.
(2) How did the researchers compare the same word in different languages? Is this comparison possible without the introduction of bias in the selection of words for each of the two languages. From the paper authors' website, "This is a comparison between the average user reported happiness scores between several languages. The "happiness" of each word is rated by 50 distinct users on a scale of 1(sad) to 9 (happy). Words from each row language are then translated into each column language and intersected with each other corpora."
So, how much are the results a reflection of the experimenter's biases and skills in translation to the 2nd language. I'm suspicious of this type of comparison. From the article (not the paper), "For example, on a scale of 1 to 9 with nine being the happiest, Germans rate the word “gift” as 3.54. That’s slightly negative. By contrast, English speakers rate “gift” as strongly positive at 7.72." As a somewhat fluent German speaker, I know that the German word "gift" means poison, and I would consider it not just slightly negative but extremely negative. If the experimenters actually presented the German speakers with the German translation of the English word "gift", e.g., something like "Geschenk", then I imagine the German response would have been very positive.