Volume 15, Issue 2 (2024)                   LRR 2024, 15(2): 131-161 | Back to browse issues page


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Samimifar M, Bahrami-Khorshid S, Akbari Chermahini S. First or Second Language? Bilinguals’ Language Selection at the Time of Happiness. LRR 2024; 15 (2) :131-161
URL: http://lrr.modares.ac.ir/article-14-54310-en.html
1- M.A. in Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran; Iran
2- Associate Professor of Linguistics, Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities, Tarbiat Modares University, Tehran , sahbahrami@yahoo.com
3- Associate Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Humanities, Arak University, Arak, Iran
Abstract:   (2345 Views)
Bilingualism affects many cognitive and emotional processes, and studies have shown emotional arousal statements influence language, specifically language selection. The present quasi-experimental research was accomplished with the aim of surveying the language selection of Turkish-Persian bilinguals at the time of processing happiness. For this purpose, using targeted sampling, we selected 20 Turkish-Persian sequential bilinguals (with an average age of 26) among university students of Tehran. Participants were first asked to fill language history, General Health, Handedness, and Positive and Negative Affect Schedule questionnaires; then they responded to a computerized task designed to induce happiness and determined the meaningfulness of Turkish and Persian words and non-words. By examining the performance of the participants in the test through repeated measures analysis of variance, it was revealed that individuals significantly spent more time on determining the meaningfulness of words in happiness inducing condition comparing to the normal one. Also, regarding the comparison of two languages in both conditions separately, paired comparison results demonstrated that participants’ reaction time to Turkish words in happiness inducing condition was significantly longer (Ps<0/05). As a result, it can be proposed that Turkish-Persian bilinguals are more involved with their first language in emotional states, especially happy state, and that Turkish has more and deeper emotional associations for them, and their emotional involvement is stronger for their native language than for their second language.

1. Introduction
Language is part of human behavior and possibly one of the most complex cognitive skills. Using language is crucial for our social and cultural lives. Emotion is also a major aspect of the way we interact with the world around us. Many researchers have remarked a close bi-directional link between language and emotions, language evokes emotions and affects emotional perception, and emotions affect language processing and use. Bilingual studies also have demonstrated that thinking in different languages fundamentally affects cognitive, emotional, and psychological aspects of our lives, and it is assumed that bilingual speakers experience different levels of emotionality in their two languages. Generally speaking, at intense emotional states, either positive or negative, one of the bilinguals’ languages becomes dominant. A wide range of literature points to the fact that emotion concepts and the linguistic means by which emotions are expressed might, to a great amount, differ across languages and cultures. Thereby, building on past research which has suggested that there is stronger emotionality in first compared to second language, the main goal of the present study was to investigate Turkish-Persian bilinguals’ language selection at the time of happiness as a positive emotion.
Research Question(s)
The primary question addressed in this study can be stated as follows:
Which language is more involved at the time of processing happiness in Turlish-Persian bilinguals, first language (L1) or second language (L2)? 

2. Literature Review
Emotions are different from culture to culture and from one speech community to another which may be a result of the flexible nature of emotional experiences and concepts in various linguistic contexts. Following learning a language, emotional concepts are acquired. These concepts are largely associated with emotional words and expressions that may not exist in other languages (Alqarni & Dewaele, 2020). Specifically, in the process of learning L1, emotions are essential elements of the communicative situation and play a fundamental role in establishing semantic representations through first language processing (Sianipar et al., 2015). In bilingual studies, sequential bilinguals who acquired their L2 after their L1, have commonly reported stronger emotionality in their first compared to their second language, though they are proficient in both languages and understand the emotional meaning of the L2 words thoroughly (Ferré et al., 2013; Grosjean, 2008; Harris, 2004; Aneta Pavlenko, 2006; Aneta  Pavlenko, 2012; Yuan, 2009). The present study follows the notion of different emotionality experiences in bilinguals’ first and second language.

3. Methodology
Participants of this study were 20 (10 females and 10 males) Turkish-Persian sequential bilinguals. They were students of Tehran universities between the ages of 22 and 32 years, selected using targeted sampling. To examine the effects of bilingualism on processing happiness and response latencies in L1 vs. L2, a lexical decision task was designed. The stimuli consisted of 20 pictures for inducing happiness and 20 neutral pictures. To collect the targets of the task, 206 Persian neutral words were obtained from the NRC Word-Emotion Association Lexicon database, translated into Turkish by native Turkish speakers, and rated by 50 individuals from the target population based on the emotion they induced (happiness, sadness, fear, anger, and no emotion at all), and the extent to which that emotion was induced (very little to very much). Finally, words with the lowest ratings of emotion inducement (such as tray, spoon, cotton, etc.) were selected. The experiment was divided into two blocks with a break between them. In each block, 20 pictures were presented three times on a random basis followed by a Turkish or Persian word or a non-word. The first block contained happiness-inducing pictures as primes and in the second block, the neutral pictures were demonstrated. Each trial started with a fixation cross of 1-second duration, followed by a picture for 500 milliseconds. Then, a Turkish or Persian word or a non-word was presented in randomized order and they judged if it was a meaningful word (either Turkish or Persian) or a non-word as quickly and accurately as possible using the right and left shift keys respectively while their reaction time was recorded. Each word was presented for a maximum duration of 3 seconds or disappeared immediately after the response. The experiment was run using DMDX version 5.1.3.4, and the entire experimental session lasted approximately 20 minutes. 

4. Results
According to the analysis of GHQ-28, none of the participants had scores above 22 which approved their general health. Also, according to the results of PANAS, none of them had high ratings of any mood and their general mood did not intervene in inducing happiness in the task.
To evaluate the study hypotheses, the data was analyzed using SPSS repeated-measures ANOVA. The results demonstrated that the block effect was significant; the reaction time to the meaningfulness of words in both languages in block 1 (presenting happiness inducing pictures) was significantly more compared to block 2 (presenting neutral pictures), and it was more for those followed by Turkish words compared to the ones followed by Persian words. On the basis of these reaction times, we can deduce which language was selected, in other words, was more involved encountering the positive stimuli. In both Turkish and Persian languages, the mean reaction time to words following neutral stimuli was less than mean reaction time to words following happiness-inducing stimuli. The reason is that neutral stimuli did not cause any particular emotional state for subjects and were processed as usual everyday conditions, thus, processing them and following words was faster. However, happiness-inducing stimuli, due to the emotional content they had, captured subjects’ attention and had an influence on their reaction which resulted in more processing time and slower response.
Also, to make a comparison between two languages, the differences of reaction times to happiness-inducing and neutral stimuli in each language were obtained, and it was revealed that the degree of difference of reaction times in Turkish was more than Persian showing that participants responded faster to words in L2 than in L1. The pattern of results showed that Turkish-Persian bilinguals think deeper in Turkish which is quite obvious as they have acquired Turkish at home and in the context of family, but Persian has been learned at school as their second language. Consequently, the context of learning, home vs. school, has a crucial impact on their language and emotional processing. These findings are in similar line with many studies in this domain proposing that bilinguals’ second language is somehow emotionally distant comparing to their mother tongue.
 
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Article Type: مقالات علمی پژوهشی | Subject: Language Psychology
Published: 2024/12/30

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