Hearing emotion in two languages: A pupillometry study of Cantonese–Mandarin bilinguals’ perception of affective cognates in L1 and L2

Yao Yao, Katrina Connell, Stephen Politzer-Ahles

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

Abstract

Differential affective processing has been widely documented for bilinguals: L1 affective words elicit higher levels of arousal and stronger emotionality ratings than L2 affective words (Pavlenko, 2012). In this study, we focus on two closely related Chinese languages, Mandarin and Cantonese, whose affective lexicons are highly overlapping, with shared lexical items that only differ in pronunciation across languages. We recorded L1 Cantonese – L2 Mandarin bilinguals’ pupil responses to auditory tokens of Cantonese and Mandarin affective words. Our results showed that Cantonese–Mandarin bilinguals had stronger pupil responses when the affective words were pronounced in Cantonese (L1) than when the same words were pronounced in Mandarin (L2). The effect was most evident in taboo words and among bilinguals with lower L2 proficiency. We discuss the theoretical implications of the findings in the frameworks of exemplar theory and models of the bilingual lexicon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)795-808
JournalBilingualism: Language and Cognition
Volume26
Issue number4
Early online date17 Jan 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023

Keywords

  • Cantonese–Mandarin bilingual
  • differential affective processing
  • pupillometry
  • lexical processing

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