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"Emotions & Multilingualism" (review)

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  • Don Osborn
    FYI (fwd from Linguist list)... DZO Date: 14-Aug-2006 From: Julie Bruch Subject: Emotions and Multilingualism Announced at
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 30, 2006
      FYI (fwd from Linguist list)... DZO

      Date: 14-Aug-2006
      From: Julie Bruch <jbruch@...>
      Subject: Emotions and Multilingualism

      Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/17/17-1010.html
      AUTHOR: Pavlenko, Aneta
      TITLE: Emotions and Multilingualism
      SERIES: Studies in Emotion and Social Interaction
      PUBLISHER: Cambridge University Press
      YEAR: 2006

      Reviewer: Julie Bruch, Department of Languages, Literature, and
      Communication, Mesa State College

      Emotions and Multilingualism provides a comprehensive overview of
      research done in the field of emotions and language, which is analyzed
      and added to with the author's own work and thinking. Three main uses
      of this book are obvious. It is appropriate for use in graduate
      courses in psycholinguistics, anthropological linguistics, or second
      language acquisition (SLA) theory and bilingualism. It will also be of
      use as a model and reference for anyone interested in doing research
      on either emotions or multilingualism. And third, bilingual or
      multilingual individuals who are interested in interpreting their own
      experiences, will find this book to be of great significance. (From
      here, the word ''bilingual'' will be used generically to refer to both
      bilinguals and multilinguals.) The book includes two perspectives on
      the topic: one from the field of emotion studies and one from the
      field of multilingualism. In this way, specialists in one field who
      may not be deeply studied in the other are given sufficient grounding
      to understand the research and ideas presented. The author states in
      the preface that the traditional approach to both linguistic inquiry
      and inquiry about the human mind has been based on a monolingual ideal
      speaker, and since a real minority of the world's language users are
      not monolingual, the resulting theories cannot be truly representative
      of what is a ''messy, heteroglossic, and multilingual'' reality (p. xii).

      The first chapters of the book introduce how emotions studies are
      necessary for studies of multilingualism and vice versa, and later
      chapters go in-depth through the levels of language sounds, semantics
      and concepts, and discourse as they correlate with and express
      emotions, and finally, the neurophysiology of emotions and the social
      influences on emotions are related to language and multilingualism. In
      the eighth and last chapter of the book, suggestions are presented for
      integrating the two fields of emotions studies and multilingualism


      In the first chapter, the Pavlenko raises questions about Chomsky's
      using an idealized monolingual native speaker to make generalizations
      about language and human cognition. She suggests that the Chomskian
      tradition has been the source of a deep-seated inherent bias in
      research methodology and analyses, much in the same way that gender
      bias in the past affected research models in many different fields.
      She suggests that language competence (even in L1) is not the
      homogeneous and relatively unchangeable property that many researchers
      seem to presuppose (e.g., MacWhinney 1997). She emphasizes that many
      factors point to an opposing reality; that is, bilingual speakers have
      a uniquely formed linguistic and emotional system that rather than
      being composed of two monolingual systems, is in fact a compound and
      dynamic system of multicompetence (as theorized by others as well,
      namely, Cook (1991) and Grosjean (1998)). The author's argument is
      that the study of bilingualism is a necessary component in the study
      of emotions in the fields of linguistics, psychology, and
      anthropology, and she advocates an overall reassessment of research
      methodology and reporting procedures.

      Chapter two argues that the fields of SLA and bilingualism can be
      greatly enriched by the study of emotions, and Pavlenko surveys extant
      work in this area. She points out that extant research demonstrates
      that in monolingual societies, bilinguals have been avoided or treated
      as problematic, and in multilinual societies, bilingualism has been
      ignored since it is the norm. Other work from the field of psychology
      shows a long history of looking at correlations between pathological
      identity formation and discriminating use of first language (L1) and
      second languages (L2) by subjects. It is these metaphors of a split
      identity that have somewhat incorrectly informed writing on SLA and
      bilingualism. The author suggests that while Krashen's well-known
      Monitor Model (most recently in 1994) and others have developed
      theories relating affect and the acquisition of second languages, they
      are reductionist in nature. She notes that affective constructs such
      as anxiety, motivation, self-esteem, risk-taking, and tolerance of
      ambiguity that are frequently cited in the literature on language
      learning and acquisition may be relevant to classroom learners in a
      monolingual society, but they are not representative of the diverse
      emotional factors that play a role in bilingualism in the greater
      contexts of language learning and use. Pavlenko then outlines the few
      studies that do indeed consider more contextualized aspects of
      bilingualism point toward the existence of distinct emotional
      repertories connected to distinct languages, and summarizes the
      methodology used in her own large-scale study (a two-year web
      questionnaire involving 1,039 bilingual participants). Her main
      premise in suggesting the need for revised research models is that
      ''there is no single coherent story to be told about the relationship
      between emotions and multilingualism,'' and she strongly asserts that
      future work should avoid the traditional unitary and narrow views of
      affect and language that were common in the past.

      Chapter three is the first of three chapters that break language into
      its components for analysis of their interaction with emotions. This
      chapter explains ways in which vocal cues signal emotions in different
      languages and explores the ways in which both monolinguals and
      bilinguals interpret the emotions behind vocal cues in different
      languages. Pavlenko provides
      numerous examples of pitch, intonation, stress and loudness, and
      rhythm that signal different emotional states across different
      languages. She stresses that vocal cues are inherently ambiguous and
      dependent on individual speaker and context, but she summarizes work
      that demonstrates that interpreting emotions based on vocal cues is
      accurate to a degree greater than chance even for non-native speakers
      of a language. She also gives examples of how the misinterpretation of
      vocal cues across languages can be problematic, including the context
      of psychological evaluations. She points out that many more studies
      comparing the prosody of conventionalized emotional signals are
      needed, both intralanguage and cross-linguistically. Very importantly,
      in this chapter, Pavlenko summarizes and comments on numerous research
      models, concluding that future work on affective cues in language
      needs to delineate more carefully a multitude of factors such as
      linguistic and cultural background of participants, level of anxiety,
      gender, length of speech samples, etc. At a practical level, she
      mentions the fact that although vocal cues are often the most
      important aspect of expressing and interpreting affect and are often
      part of language transfer from L1 to L2, vocal cues to emotions are
      not usually taught in language classrooms.

      Chapter four moves into the area of mental lexicon and semantic
      concepts as they relate to emotions. Pavlenko offers several
      subjective accounts of language users who have learned to feel
      different emotions through different languages, and she makes the
      point that since emotion terms do not correspond neatly across
      languages, these subjective accounts make sense. She goes on to
      present three competing paradigms currently used for conceptualizing
      the relationship between emotion terms in language, the mental
      representations of those terms, and the experiences of language users.
      The author argues in detail for her stance of defining and framing her
      approach based on ''a process view of emotions'' (p. 80), in which
      emotion concepts are formed through experience (relativist paradigm)
      and through physiological or biological states that accompany them
      (universalist paradigm). She goes on to summarize findings to date on
      cross-linguistic comparisons of emotion terms, which leads her to ask
      how bilinguals represent emotions. Ten studies based on a variety of
      research methodologies are outlined and critiqued. Some of the most
      interesting results of these studies point toward the fact that
      bilinguals appear to reconceptualize their emotions as they become
      socialized into their other language(s). Several studies indicate that
      emotion categories themselves are borrowed across languages together
      with the borrowing of words or with code switching. At the practical
      level, the author highlights the importance of this type of knowledge
      for legal, clinical, and academic contexts. She ends the chapter by
      suggesting ways to refine and improve future research and adds some
      questions that still need to be addressed in the research.

      In chapter five, the author covers the discourse level of language and
      emotions. Discourse has only recently become the subject of study for
      emotions because it was long perceived as too difficult to objectify.
      Two currently developing paradigms for research are introduced, and
      Pavlenko adopts the view that instead of communicating emotions, we
      ''perform affect'' (p. 115) in various ways. She indicates that we use
      discourse strategies such as: terms of address, hedges, intensifiers,
      pronoun choice, diminutives, tag questions, tense, mood, voice, word
      order, narrative structures, register, and turn-taking to assume
      different affective personae in different contexts. This leads to
      several questions in the case of bilinguals. Do they use distinct
      affective styles in their distinct languages, and if so, how are those
      choices made? Is there cross-linguistic influence? Results of studies
      of discourse show that bilinguals often feel that one of their
      languages is better suited for capturing or experiencing certain
      emotions, that language attrition may be accompanied by attrition of
      certain types of emotion frames, and that there is bidirectional
      influence of languages on emotion conceptualization. Again the author
      closes the chapter by suggesting that foreign language classes need to
      teach learners how to perform affect, and she presents ways in which
      to improve future research.

      Chapter six moves away from the components of language into the area
      of neurophysical responses related to emotions when different
      languages are used by bilingual speakers. There is evidence here that
      L1 is more closely attached to the limbic system of the brain (which
      processes emotions), and other evidence points to the idea that
      emotional memories are more strongly associated with L1. Pavlenko
      explains the ''L2 detachment effect'' (p. 158), which both allows
      bilinguals to undergo psychotherapy for trauma in the second language
      and allows bilinguals to use taboo words more easily in the second
      language. Other interesting findings are the ''language congruity
      effect'' and the ''language specificity effect'' (p. 177) which both
      relate memories elicited by L1 to higher emotional intensity. There is
      a discussion of translingual writers and their choices of which
      language they use in their writing. The author ends the chapter with a
      criticism of most studies as still holding the view that a bilingual
      is two isolated monolinguals in one body, and says that many other
      dynamics need to be factored into future research.

      Chapter seven explores how language choices are based on social
      identities and power relations, which by nature are tied to emotions.
      Pavlenko details the ways in which emotional investments are made in
      particular languages by bilinguals because of the social or cultural
      character types linked to those languages. She presents case studies
      of L1 rejection and attrition linked to emotional attitudes
      (specifically German speakers during the Nazi occupation). Also
      presented are studies of deep love for new language tied to romantic
      allegiances. Since language use is always at some level an act of
      identity, and our identities are constantly in flux, the author
      suggests that as our emotions change over time, so our language
      investments will be complex and even contradictory at times.

      In chapter eight, Pavlenko sketches some general directions for
      integrating multilingual approaches into the study of language and
      emotions and some directions for integrating the study of emotions
      into the study of multilingualism. She emphasizes the importance of
      triangulation in future work. She calls for increased naturalistic
      studies and more collaborative analyses that involve communication
      between participants, informants, native speakers, and researchers as
      part of research. She also explains the overall need for much more
      careful reporting that will make analytic choices, criteria, results,
      and contexts more explicit. She ends with a plea for theorists to stop
      believing that sufficient data can be garnered from monolinguals,
      saying that it is irresponsible not to use bilinguals for linguistic
      and psychological theory building.


      Each chapter of this book resonates with ideas, questions,
      experiences, and emotions that will be intimately familiar to many
      bi/multi-lingual language users. The author's strategy of viewing
      emotions through different lenses, varying through the viewpoints of
      emotions as states, as mental concepts, as processes, or as
      relationships is very effective in achieving her stated
      purpose of changing the unitary way we think about affect in language.
      While running the risk of sounding self-contradictory, she
      successfully enables the reader to approach the subject from
      multi-faceted viewpoints, which contributes to understanding rather
      than causing confusion.

      The author organizes the book systematically and effectively. She
      opens each chapter with subjective accounts and personal experiences
      of individuals in order to lead into key questions to be explored in
      the chapter. She explicitly states the goals of each chapter, presents
      the extant theoretical paradigms, summarizes key pieces of evidence,
      lists and discusses noteworthy factors found in the research, and
      finally summarizes the findings of studies and their implications and
      suggests directions for future research. (The last section in each
      chapter is entitled ''Conclusions and Implications for Future
      Research.'' I found these sections to be reiterative enough that I
      felt part of the section title should be ''Summary'' rather than
      ''Conclusions.'') Studies ranging from several decades ago up to the
      most recent work are listed in tables in each chapter. The tables
      include both research procedures and findings.

      In chapter three (the first of the language component chapters), there
      are a great number of studies, examples, and narratives, which are all
      interesting, but this reviewer found them to be too extensive in that
      they reiterate over and over the point that vocal cues are problematic to
      interpret within and across languages â€" a point on which many readers
      do not need much convincing. However, her outlining of many studies is
      valuable in that it offers a number of research designs which can be
      taken as models for further research.

      In chapter four, Pavlenko defends her rather revolutionary view of
      conceptualizing emotions very successfully. She carefully formulates
      four valid arguments to support her view of emotions as processes.
      Especially convincing is her argument that emotion concepts are by
      nature embedded in other systems, such as moral or power systems,
      which are context-dependent and negotiable. Again, in this chapter,
      she lists ample examples of various types of research already done,
      and she makes insightful and practical suggestions for how better to
      approach research on emotion conceptualization and language.

      In chapter five, the author continues her pattern of summarizing
      important studies in the field, critiquing them, and suggesting ways
      to improve. She stated at the beginning of the book that her stance is
      nontraditional, with a multifaceted approach. I found this approach
      through the three chapters on components of language to be refreshing
      and well-suited to the complexities of the topic. There are just a
      couple of spots where details of Spanish were incorrect (p. 84 states
      that the verb ''ser'' is used to express location) or oversimplified
      (p. 118 states that ''mamita'' means daughter), but other language
      examples from Japanese appear to be accurate.

      Overall, the book is user-friendly, comprehensive, insightful, and
      though-provoking. Its perspective being interdisciplinary, many types
      of readers will find it useful. I recommend it most highly.


      Cook, V. (1991) The poverty of the stimulus argument and
      multicompetence. Second Language Research, 7, 2, 103-117.

      Grosjean, F. (1998) Studying bilinguals: Methodological and conceptual
      issues. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1, 2, 131-149.

      Krashen, S. (1994) The input hypothesis and its rivals. In N. Ellis
      (ed.) Implicit and explicit learning of languages. New York: Academic
      Press, pp. 45-77.

      MacWhinney, B. (1997) Second language acquisition and the competition
      model. In DeGroot, A. and J. Kroll (eds.) Tutorials in bilingualism:
      Psycholinguistic perspectives. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, pp. 113-142.

      ABOUT THE REVIEWER Julie Bruch is Associate Professor of English and
      Linguistics at Mesa State College in Colorado, U.S.A. Her research
      interests are second language acquisition and cross-cultural
      comparisons of aspects of discourse.

      --- In Multilingual_Literacy@yahoogroups.com, "Don Osborn" <dzo@...>
      > FYI. Cf. similar title by same author, annnounced in message #408.
      > (Fwd from Linguist list)... DZO
      > Date: 03-Apr-2006
      > From: Joyce Reid <jreid@...>
      > Subject: Emotions and Multilingualism: Pavlenko
      > Title: Emotions and Multilingualism
      > Series Title: Studies in Emotion and Social Interaction
      > Published: 2006
      > Publisher: Cambridge University Press
      > http://us.cambridge.org
      > Author: Aneta Pavlenko, Temple University
      > Hardback: ISBN: 0521843618 Pages: 318 Price: U.K. � 50.00
      > Abstract:
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