Codeswitching and emotional alignment: Talking about abuse in domestic migrant-worker returnee narratives

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Early research on bilingualism and emotion suggests that bilingual speakers' L1 may be preferred for emotional expression whereas L2 may be used for emotional detachment. The evidence comes primarily from surveys, interviews, and laboratory studies. Studies of bilingual codeswitching (CS) and emotion tend to focus on perception and recollection of experience rather than actual language data. This article uses data from domestic migrant-worker returnee narratives to explore the use of CS in storytelling. Domestic-worker returnees in Indonesia participated in sharing sessions in which they talked about the trauma they experienced while they worked overseas as domestic helpers. CS was widely used and, through a discourse analysis of selected excerpts, the article shows that CS is used for addressee specification and emotional alignment. The article concludes by considering how researchers may use the trauma narratives of repressed groups for social activism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-714
Number of pages22
JournalLanguage in Society
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018


  • Codeswitching and emotion
  • domestic migrant workers
  • Indonesia
  • trauma narratives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


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