Bilingualism and emotions

Aneta Pavlenko
2002 Multilingua - Journal of Cross-cultural and Interlanguage Communiciation  
While several scholars have examined the influence of emotions on bilingual performance (Anooshian and to date very little is known about ways in which bilinguals talk about emotions in their two languages. The present study investigates discursive construction of emotions in the two languages of RussianϪEnglish bilinguals. Previous studies (Pavlenko 2002; Wierzbicka 1992 Wierzbicka , 1998 Wierzbicka , 1999 have demonstrated that Russian and English differ in ways in which emotions are
more » ... otions are conceptualized and framed in discourse. The goal of the present study is to examine ways in which late RussianϪEnglish bilinguals, who learned their English post puberty, negotiate these differences in narratives elicited in both languages. It will be argued that in cases where the two speech communities differ in the conceptualization of emotions, the process of second language socialization may result in the conceptual restructuring of emotion categories of adult language learners, as evident in instances of second language influence on first language performance. ). Recently, the interest in emotions has spilled over to the fields of bilingualism and second language acquisition (SLA) where several authors have begun examining the role of affect in second language (L2) learning and use (. While this research provides us with fascinating insights into the nature of language choice and use by multilingual individuals (see discussion below), it has a limited view of the relationship between language and emotions. Recently, scholars working within cognitivist and constructivist perspectives have argued for a more inclusive approach which views emotions as discursively constructed phenomena and, therefore, examines not only languages and emotions, but also languages of emotions (. This view raises interesting possibilities for explorations in the field of bilingualism: if Ϫ at least some Ϫ emotion categories and discourses differ between cultures and speech communities, how do bi-and multilingual individuals talk about emotions in their various languages? How do they perceive and categorize emotion states? What emotion scripts do they follow in their everyday lives? The aim of this paper is to explore perception, categorization, and narrative construction of emotions by one group of such individuals: late RussianϪEnglish bilinguals who learned their second language, English, as teenagers and adults. In what follows, I will first review existing studies on language and emotions in bilingualism and SLA and then proceed to discuss my own investigation, ending with some implications for future research on bilingualism and emotions.
doi:10.1515/mult.2002.004 fatcat:4hjsvhepxrh73fo7o2kafw4aje