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Communicating Emotion in a Foreign Language: Advantages and Disadvantages of the Detachment Effect (Call for papers)

Ultima actualizare: 27 Aug 2019

Submission deadline: September 16, 2019

The powerful associations formed between an L1 and early memories, sensations and emotions (Harris et al, 2006; Pavlenko, 2012) are often lacking in a foreign language (LX). Even ‘balanced’ multilinguals tend to report a preference for their first language (L1) when verbalising emotion and for emotional inner speech (Dewaele, 2015). Indeed, emotional expression appears to be a key driver for code-switching in multilinguals (Dewaele, 2013). Empirical research also shows that multilinguals have different physiological responses to emotional stimuli in different languages (Harris et al, 2003). However, the LX detachment effect can also help speakers to regulate uncomfortable emotions (Bond & Lai, 1986).

The emotionality of an LX has implications for various domains where accuracy in expression and perception is crucial. These range from romantic relationships (Dewaele & Salomidou, 2017) to health care settings. In particular, emotional detachment of the LX can hinder or facilitate psychotherapeutic work depending on the situation (Buxbaum, 1949; Marcos, 1976; Rolland et al, 2017). The symposium will contrast the advantages (e.g. the disclosure of painful memories or the expression of feelings which are taboo in an L1) and disadvantages (muting the speaker’s emotion and hindering authenticity) of the detachment effect in order to appreciate its complexities.

Call for Papers:

This Symposium will take place at the AILA 2020 World Congress. We invite proposals examining the implications of emotional detachment when multilingual speakers use a later learnt language. Can this be a useful linguistic resource, or does it put speakers at a disadvantage for emotion communication (perception/expression)? All domains, from personal relationships to service provision (e.g. health communication), are welcomed.

How to Submit:

Submit your abstract by 16 September 2019 at: https://www.aila2020.nl/call-for-papers

You will need to provide:

- Symposium number: S022
- Author and affiliation
- Title: max 20 words
- Abstract: max 300 words
- 50-word summary for programme
- Multimodal presentation type: Standard (12-20 minute Powerpoint) or Focused (short pitch & poster)

Presenters will be notified by 18 November 2019.


- Jean-Marc Dewaele, Birkbeck, University of London, UK (j.dewaelebbk.ac.uk)
- Louise Rolland, Birkbeck, University of London, UK (lrolla01mail.bbk.ac.uk)

Featured Speaker:

- Catherine Caldwell-Harris, Boston University, USA