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Academic Paper

Title: Bilingualism and emotion webquestionnaire
Paper URL:
Author: Aneta Pavlenko
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Temple University
Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics
Subject LANGUAGE Family: New English
Abstract: Oatley and Johnson-Laird (1998: 85) point out that "emotions are at the center of human mental and social life". Not surprisingly, the phenomenon of emotions has attracted the attention of researchers in a variety of fields, including neurobiology, cognitive, social and cultural psychology, anthropology, and cognitive linguistics. This research suggests that there may be both cultural similarity and diversity in emotions. /L/A recent study by Pavlenko on oral narratives elicited through the same visual stimuli from 40 monolingual Russians and 40 monolingual Americans supported Wierzbicka's (1999) claims. It seems that 'the reading of the body' is not a culture- and language-free experience, but is shaped by cultural, social, and linguistic forces, as well as by individual differences (2002a)./L//L/To enhance intercultural communication and understanding and to improve ways in which linguistic minority members in our own culture are dealt with in a wide range of contexts - educational, business, medical, and legal - it is becoming increasingly important to understand ways in which different cultures conceptualize and verbalize emotions. Moreover, the fact that more than half of the world's population is bi- and multilingual (Romaine, 1995) suggests that researchers need to start paying attention to ways in which the use of two or more languages or learning of a second language transform individual's emotion concepts and scripts. Until recently, however, investigations of language and emotions in a variety of fields - except for psychoanalysis and psychological counseling - excluded bilingual individuals. Two recent studies looked at how bilinguals talk about emotions in their two languages. The first study, by Pavlenko investigated discursive construction of emotions in the two languages of Russian-English bilinguals (2002b). Building on the previously mentionned study (2002a), Pavlenko examined how late Russian-English bilinguals, who learned their English post puberty, negotiate these differences in conceptualization of emotions in narratives elicited in both languages. She found evidence that the process of second language socialization resulted in the conceptual restructuring of emotion categories of her adult language learners, as evident in instances of English influence on Russian performance. In order words, some of the bilinguals had internalized and actively deployed American emotion concepts and generally favored concepts and scripts shared by their two speech communities. They also seemed to be in the process of shifting their conceptualization of emotions from that of an active process to that of a state./L/The second study, by Dewaele and Pavlenko (2002), investigated the use of emotion vocabulary in the advanced French interlanguage of 29 Dutch L1 speakers and in the advanced English interlanguage of 34 Russian L1 speakers (the corpus used by Pavlenko 2002b). The results demonstrate that highly proficient and extravert speakers use a significantly greater number of emotion words in their conversations. The type of linguistic material and gender were also found to have an effect on the use of emotion words (females generally using more and richer emotion words)./L//L/In order to create a larger picture of bilinguals' own perceptions of the relationship between their languages and emotions (i.e., whether they are more emotional about one language than others, or whether they see one language as particularly suitable for expressing their emotions, such as anger, irritation, or enjoyment), we developed a webquestionnaire with 34 questions on bilingualism and emotions which we would love you to fill out if you have -at least some - knowledge of an L2, or L3, L4, L5...! The questionnaire is based at the following address :
Type: Individual Paper
Status: In Progress
Venue: EUROSLA 12 Conference at the University of Basel, Switzerland, 18-21 September 2002 (; and, secondly, at the Colloquium Bilingualism and Emotions of which we are conveners and which is part of the Second University
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