Words from the Heart: Emotional Expression from Russian-Australian 1.5ers
AffiliationSchool of Languages and Linguistics
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2022-04-24.
© 2019 Beatrice Venturin
The bulk of studies on bilingualism and emotions have commonly focussed on multilinguals with a variety of language combinations, language learning trajectories and different cultural backgrounds. This heterogeneity has often been recognised as a limitation of this research area, given that emotion concepts can be language- and culture-specific (Panayiotou, 2006; Sachs & Coley, 2006; Wierzbicka, 1992, 1997, 1999) and emotional expression can vary enormously from one culture to another (Dewaele, 2015a; Kitayama & Markus, 1994; Kovecses, 2003). Despite the repeated calls for further research on bilinguals and multilinguals who learned an LX during childhood (Caldwell-Harris, Staroselsky, Smashnaya & Vasilyeva, 2012; Harris, 2004; Harris, Gleason, & Aycicegi, 2006), most studies have examined multilinguals who learned their LXs late in life, and who are dominant in their L1 (Dewaele, 2010a). Trying to fill these research gaps and combining these various calls for research, the present study examined a group of Russian-Australian sequential bilinguals, born in a Russian-speaking country, who migrated to Australia, or another English-speaking country first, and later to Australia, between the ages of 6 and 12 years. Owing to their age of migration, these speakers have been named as 1.5ers (Rumbaut & Ima, 1988) as they share some characteristics with the first generation, and some with the second generation of migrants, yet are dissimilar to both, and should been examined as a generation on their own – generation 1.5 (Rumbaut, 1997, 2004). This generation of speakers is not homogeneous in terms of language competence (Frodesen, 2002); generally, they have native or almost-native proficiency in their L2, while their L1 proficiency may vary drastically (Portes & Rumbaut, 2001, 2014). The present research explored the emotional speech, perceived language emotional resonance and language choices to express emotions for a group of Russian-Australian 1.5ers, investigated during adulthood. The data collected through a mixed-method approach – fictional narratives and semi-structured debriefing interviews – confirmed the liminality of these speakers. In fact, their emotional speech and use of emotion vocabulary was overall language-appropriate both in L1 and L2, although it showed that it had undergone attrition and restructuring. Their perceptions on language emotionality revealed that the L1 maintained strong emotional connotations, including for those who did not feel very fluent in this language (see, e.g., Dewaele, 2004a, Pavlenko, 2004a). Language choices to express emotions showed a connection with perceived language competence (see, e.g., Dewaele, 2006, 2009, 2010a; Ozanska-Ponikwia, 2012a), except for in the sphere of parenting, which was influenced mainly by the perceived emotionality of the L1, and choices of language maintenance.
Keywords1.5 generation; immigrant children; childhood sequential bilinguals; heritage speakers; emotion words; language emotionality; emotional speech; emotional expression; bilingualism and emotions; languages and emotions
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