Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.
Bilingualism or multilingualism being described merely as a phenomenon where an individual is able to speak and write in two or more languages is not exactly an accurate definition; the term also applies to those who think and feel in two or more languages and this can take place in multilingual communities or not. Early research in bilingualism shows that language 1 or L1 is often preferred to express emotions and the second language or L2 to easily expresses emotional detachment. According to Dewaele, this explains that people who learn a L2 later in life might find it easier to swear or talk about sex taboos in L2, as this language has not been socialized into appropriateness in a particular context. On the contrary, if the person has acquired two or more languages through primary socialization, the expression and decoding of emotions would be provided with a broader variety that would enable a more complex expression and decoding of emotion; this variety would line up with language-specific sociocultural norms.
For Panayiotou, bilingual and multilingual individuals are often described as multilayered selves that experience the world through them, the expression and interpretation of emotions would be included in these layers and would play an important role in determining the expression chosen. Therefore, bilingual speakers behavior present quite often the use of code switching (CS from now on). Hoffman says when talking about CS “each language makes the other relative” as it can be used to represent the best the specific emotional state.
Some researchers have questioned that certain languages excuse expressions of negative emotions. A bilingual speaker who finds him/herself in a situation would prefer to switch from L1 (Japanese) to L2 (English) when having to express anger. (Dewaele) Therefore, bilinguals can resort to dual sources to express emotions, being the reason to change the lack of an unequivocal concept in the other or others languages. CS can be used in two or more codes as a way to deal with difficult emotional situations. When we learn a L2 in a formal classroom context, the emotional part is not as involved as in L1 and strong feelings and repressed emotions are likely to be best expressed in L1 and CS would be used to get closer or far from an emotional conflict. Research in CS has mainly concentrated on perception and recollection of experiences whereas language and emotion focus on linguistic behavior. CS has been particularly drawn on while narrating difficult experiences.
Then, what is the logic behind the use of CS? Can we relate CS to a specific narrative discourse? According to Burr (2015), social constructionism can help us understanding how narratives are conceptualized; she argues that narrative situates whereas dynamic discourses construct. Social constructionism proposes that when a person tells a story they also present and negotiate inevitably their social identity. In a social constructionist approach, storytelling would be context and the people would represent the actors (Augoustinos, Walker, & Donaghue 2014). For default narratives, there is one active storyteller but also a dynamic co-constructed narrative with multiple tellers. Traumatic narratives have proved to present most stories with multiple storytellers. Narrative therapy assumption is that helping people to reinterpret their life stories may help them to be able to change their present lives.
Why CS and storytelling is so much connected? Storytelling permits individuals to responds to at least five principal purposes: contributes to coherence through synthesizing personal experiences, helps creating distance by creating a story, supplies a communicative function by the narrator to the audience, promotes the reinterpretation and reevaluation of past events by giving the narrator the possibility to narrate past events and encourages explorative and therapeutic functions.
Dewaele research informs that multilingual individuals feel “significantly less logical, less serious, less emotional and increasingly fake when using their L2, L3 and L4 compared to L1”, endorsing the idea that L1 is a more authentic and a closer language. Nonetheless, different languages help people to enact in a range of facets and certain languages line up better with specific emotional expressions.
As for CS, sociolinguistic have disagree that bilingual may use it to show an affective side. Bond and Lai (1986) concluded in an experimental research with Cantonese (L1) and English (L2) that CS to L2 took place in order to permit to speakers to give speech to subjects that were too disturbing emotionally in L1. Martinovic & Altarriba (2013) explain that CS in L2 would respond in a detachment effect, but in fact, this detachment will allow the individual to be able to express difficult experience without being overwhelmed with upsetting feelings.
Some scholars like Pavlenko respond to CS in bilinguals as a response to non-perfect equivalents concepts between the different languages, not always being L1 a more emotional language. Other scholars like Panayioutou insist on bilingualism as being found and founded in two languages, depending the importance of the emotion on the context and the needs of the individual. Martinovic & Altarriba provide a double-side vision of CS phenomenon. On the one hand, CS constitutes a resource to provide a better understanding of what the individual wants to communicate. On the other hand, CS is considered a tool that provides distance into far too emotional subjects in one of the bilingual speaker languages. Numerous questions about the relation of emotions and discourse context remain unanswered though.
Dewaele insists on the fact that L1 is no longer the dominant language for emotional expression. More recent research has shown a more complex picture of this situation enabling to categorize L1 as a law of nature. Even if multi-linguals dominant language will often be L1, we can also say that the more frequently LX is used, the more likely that this language will also respond to both emotional and non-emotional objectives. Dewaele also points out that CS is often used to avoid disturb emotionally the interlocutor. He also claims that the use of CS responds to avoid upsetting interlocutors, speakers will make use of their linguistic repertoire and therefore adjust it to more or less emotional in order to respond to their needs. He also clarifies that there is no clear justification for L1 to be a more emotional language than LX, but that there is a connection between language and emotion and that the use of CS by bilinguals allows them to express more clearly certain feelings and also permits them to evade subjects or terms with negative connotations in one of the speaker’s languages.
Dewaele also points out that due to the complex nature of the CS research carried out by humanities and social studies, the conclusion should be interpreted in a more holistic way.
Han L. Ladegaard conducted a research on life stories of Filipina and Indonesian domestic migrant workers (from now on DMWs) and their trauma narratives while working overseas, in particular in Saudi Arabia and Malaysia. His research did not have the intention of analyzing the use of CS and emotions, but after conversations with DMWs for four years, data results brought some light for researchers use of trauma narratives of repressed groups.
The results showed that DMWs would switch from L1 (Bahasa) to L2 (English) when they had to narrate a high difficult experience. Testimonies containing a high emotionally content will be accompanied by intensive weep, while recollecting and explaining. Being able to switch to a less emotionally charged code will help DMWs making them capable of their experience to be told. Ladegaard’s research showed that language and emotions were intensively related as was shown in a consistent switch of language that would take place at specific moments of difficulty that would be exteriorized by crying or followed by a painful memory.
Encoding process for bi-multi-linguals can be a complex process. Emotional experiences in L1 show normally a higher level of emotional aspects and intricacy than events recollected in L2. Despite this, Tehrani &Vaughan sustain that for balanced bilinguals the quality and intensity of the emotional content would be determined by the language and context in which that experience was encoded. Tehrani &Vaughan provide the example of a French-English bilingual teacher that had been bullied in France. The use of English could not help this person when trying to remember the emotional impact suffered, as the experience happened in French and her traumatic experience was lost in the process of translation. The use of English in therapy, on the contrary, weakened the negative emotional respond to the incident helping the victim to recuperate without having to recollect or provoke negative feelings; being able to work in English restored her French persona.
As for Ladegaard’s project, he says in his article that he is unaware of the language in which the traumatic events took place, but that they are most probably to be in English; as DMWs did not normally speak Arabic and in Hong Kong, where the interviews took place, the shared language is English. Taking Tehrani & Vaughan’s explanation, their experiences would have its most powerful expression of emotional response when narrating them in English. That being said, the use of English could also contribute to experience feelings of detachment, which will help them to share their stories without feeling overwhelmed by negative emotions. And, even if DMWs are considered late bilinguals, their fluency were not exactly the same in both language, which would tell us that the use of English turned into an instrumental language and therefore a more detached language emotionally speaking.
To sum up, there is no evidence that can prove L1 to be a more emotional language and L2 a less emotional language in Ladegaard project, but there is evidence from his investigation showing the CS is used by DMWs in order to align to their emotions. Proof of this is that a change in the linguistic code will occur when anxiety and emotions are at its peak.
The conclusions about the change to L2 accompanied with its peak intensity, as this is the language in which DMWs encoded their experiences, are not conclusive. Yet, the intense weeping is a factor that could imply this, but also a sign that could have helped the process. Weeping is an expression of the healing process that helps victims to be able to talk about trauma. Victims, through intense crying, can attenuate the anxiety caused by remembering. There is also the fact that DMWs expressing in L2 connects the victims to the experience, enabling them to ask for compassion.
There is no agreement about language and emotions findings and some scholars conclude that they are imprecise. However, what we can certainly say is that the use of language is emotionally loaded and that when a speaker uses CS there is a change in an emotional sense.
Another aspect we need to be aware of is the disturbing character of the traumatic testimonies and that the stories will be incoherent with missing components in the narratives and rhythmically inconsistent. Trauma survivors try to accommodate their experiences as a coherent story, but in fact (Langer, 1991) explained that life-threatening experiences cannot be taken on in a temporal continuity as they reside in out of time. In addition to that, people do not want to hear to incoherent traumatic stories and favor linearity and stories allowing recovery.
According to Harvey and her colleagues when talking about sexual trauma, “if they cannot avoid listening, then they prefer coherent stories, ones that make sense by following a culturally-preferred plot from a state of suffering and pain to one of wholeness and recovery” (2000, 294). We do not want to hear traumatic events, but if we have do it, we prefer to listen to a coherent story when we have proof of the almost impossibility of the survivors to do so.
Example of this incapacity is the following testimony of Sari:
(1) Sari, thirty-four years old, four years in Saudi Arabia, four years in UAE. Four
more DMWs were in this sharing session. A female interpreter (Int) and a male
fieldworker (FW) were in all of the sharing sessions. Bahasa is in bold.1
1 FW: has anybody helped you talk about this after you came back?
2 Int: oke waktu//
3 Sari: //iya (sobs) pernah saya ngomong, tapi kan saya juga
4 susah kadang kalau ngeluarin itu, susah gitu
‘//yes (sobs) I’ve talked but I also sometimes have difficulties
expressing [myself], difficult like that’
5 Int: okay, it’s not easy for her to share her story, she’s tried but
6 it’s kind of not easy (quietly to FW)
7 Sari: the trauma is so deep (sobs)
8 FW: yeah, how many years now?
9 Sari: three years
10 FW: three years ago okay (1.0) yeah okay, how do you feel now?
11 Sari I think everything is the same, what, what I feel is, until
12 now is the same (sobs)
13 FW: just take your time, right? (6.0) have you thought about this
14 many times or is it the first time? have you talked to Mr (name)
15 or is it the first time?
16 Sari: no this is not the first time, it’s always like this if I raise it,
17 also I cannot, I cannot, right? (1.0) the pain is the same,
18 I go home I’m sick (2.0) I cannot xx (sobs)
19 FW: it’s okay
According to Dewaele, psycholinguistics studies can help us understanding of the relation between CS and the attitudes towards this phenomenon. His studies show that there are certain patterns that can be described and categorized by personality, linguistic practices and learning history and socio-biographical variables.
Personality characteristics are related to the use of CS. It is proven that emotionally stable people will show more admissible attitudes towards CS. Dewaele’s data was recollected by online questionnaire and showed the revealing result that individual with high scores in TA (Tolerance of Ambiguity) and CE (Cognitive Empathy) were the individual with a more positive attitude towards CS.
His research also showed that individuals in the lowest or highest levels of the multilingualism spectrum held the most positive attitudes; leaving the middle groups spectrum with the lowest acceptance towards CS.
Some more logical evidence was also recollected: individuals that have lived and/or work in multilingual and diverse environments and/or abroad had more positive attitudes towards CS. As for some socio-graphical features, women participants presented a more positive attitude than men. Education level showed a similar spectrum as for the level of multilingualism, perceiving a more positive attitude in the lowest and highest dimension. On the contrary, age related findings showed the best attitude in the middle spectrum, being individual in their forties the one with the most acceptance towards CS and teenagers and older groups with the less positive attitude.
All this characteristics of age, gender and proficiency can help us elucidating CS phenomenon but, Dewaele denounces that the attitudes towards CS have rarely been taken into account and that this variables have significant effect on CS practices.
How can we explain the correlation of certain narratives and the use of CS? How are Ladegaard’s DMWs traumatic testimonies related to Montoya’s personal experience, the Outsiders or the case People v. Josephine Chavez?
The complex nature of CS and the fact that they have essentially been explained through recollection of testimonies, might also explain the need of more holistic explanation and that personal narratives would explain best the complexity and the uniqueness of the phenomenon investigating attitudes in depth.
In M. Montoya’s article Máscaras, Trenzas, y Greñas: Un/masking the Self While Un/braiding Latina Stories and Legal Discourse, she talks about the madness of discrimination “la locura de la discriminación” in her speech given in Mexico City during the conference Encuentro Chicano México 1993: “Aqui estoy ocultada por mi máscara linguistica con sus aspectos subtextuales. Desde niña, he entendido el significado de los accentos, vocabulario, pronunciacion, sintaxis. En ingles estos elementos idiomaticos estan relacionados con my psique, con la persona quien soy. Por la primera vez entiendo que español tiene el mismo poder, a pesar de estar donde no soy parte de una minoria cultural or racial. Para mi, hablar español afuera de la casa me hace sentir vulnerable. Sobre todo, hablar español donde la mayoria lo habla mucho mejor que yo, tiene algun aspecto de como me sentia cuando era niña, cuando me sentia vulnerable antes de los gringos. Por eso es dificil quitarme la mascara que me presta el ingles y hablarles en español. Así es la locura de la discriminacíon.”
The complexity of Montoya’s expression cannot be just explained by the separation of L1, emotional language or “personal voice” as she names it; and L2, emotionally detached language or “academic” language. By “madness of discrimination” Montoya is defining her identity as being “ambiguous and contradictory” but also genuine in her own, as she truly is an equivocal and complex self.
Montoya’s numerous and complex masks are sartorial, ideological and cognitive; but also lexographic, rhetorical and linguistic. She gives the example of a Janus faced which shows two sides, her L2 would represent the adult side and the dominant culture and her L1 would represent her child or no artifice side. In her speech for the conference and her feeling towards her own L1, we can see that the delimitation of her L1 and L2 are intertwined. A Janus faced mask would be too limited for Montoya’s expression as she finds herself in between the two faces at times.
Multi-linguals would need to use multiple-face masks according to their needs, as their repertoires would allow a wider range and these could be presented in more intertwined zones.
Linguists have not come to a single definition for code switching and code-mixing. For some scholars both terms are synonym of the same linguistic phenomenon. For other scholars, they are two terms describing different concepts. According to Muysken (2000), code-switching is the use of two language code in a speech event, while in contrast code-mixing refers to all situation where lexical and grammatical features of two different languages codes takes place in a single sentence. Muysken comparative study identifies three different typologies of code mixing: insertion, alternation, and congruent lexicalization. The selection of the type in a bilingual setting would be determined by two factors: the grammatical characteristics of the languages used and a large quantity of sociolinguistic and psycholinguistic factors. Montoya’s speech shows some evidence of code-mixing insertion, the use of random words in English are inserted in her speech in Spanish: “or” and “my”. We can also see the lack of written accents (Spanish “tildes”) or wrongly marked in the acute form “discriminacíon” and the use of hybrid terms like “accent” or “ocultada”.
As for typifying code switching, we also find different approaches. Popelack (2000) talks of tag, inter-sentential and inta-sentential. Gumperz (1982) divides the phenomenon into namely, situational and metaphorical switching. For Clyne (2000) code switching is the alternative usage of two languages in conversation whether within a sentence or between sentences. Intra-sentential code-switching means within a sentence and inter-sentential between sentences, whereas extra-sentential will be used for tags in this study.
Not only sociolinguistic field is concerned about code switching but also translation and interpreting field. As we have mentioned before, no agreement has been reached to define code switching and code mixing, as to be the same concept or two different terms. As for code-switching’s definition is still put in question as different opinions converge by linguists, psycholinguists, philosophers, and anthropologists.
Cortabarria’s research on hybrid English-Spanish context in the USA takes place in health and judicial contexts. Her results included that Hispanics would frequently had to switch or borrow terms from English due to practical reasons and insert them into their dominant language. The result of this process is a hybrid form of Spanish (like in Zimbabwe in the trials). This unique and non standard expression of Spanish becomes a challenge for professional translators and interpreters who need to communicate L1 into L2; finding themselves in a dilemma of using non-standard language in order to achieve communication and respond to ethical principles and not as some early research pointed out to respond to poor knowledge or lexicon.
For non standard language is understood several linguistic phenomena, including code-switching as Mendieta (1999) expresses borrowing in all its forms: pure loanwords, calques, loan blends, semantic extensions, hybrid creation.”
Cortabarria’s findings show incompatibility between being able to communicate in a proficient and professional way using non-standard language. The linguistic tautness leaves no choice to the translators and interpreters that to make a choice between the use of standard speech, having this way to educate the audience, or to use non-standard language in the community.
As for legal context Cortabarria explains, “ Interpreters can educate by avoiding the use of non-standard words, but active reformulation of terms and phrases in less common.” (422) Then, when can we avoid CS? To which extent is this possible? Is there a more appropriate language for a bilingual or multilingual to narrate traumatic events in Court? What are the criteria to follow to choose one or another? The research made by Victor Mugari et al. gives an explanation to the patterns and interpretation of the use of CS in the courtroom discourse of chiShona and English bilinguals in rape cases in Zimbabwe.
In the legal context code switching is often used to fulfill a lexical gap in the language of interaction, using in this case English terminology for technical jargon and referential terms. One of the reasons for this to happen is having received training in English, perceiving this way an easier comprehension of the term in the original language learned. Mugari et al. research conclude that code switching in case of rape in Harare Magistrate Court takes place for a number of multiple reasons but a common point to magistrates, prosecutors, witnesses and accused is that the switch to English occurs in order to express a concept that in chiShona is taboo. The participant will try to avoid the use of sexually explicit language and instead will use euphemisms. This is proven to be a way to remove power from the ordinary people, in particular women.
Prosecutor: You claim that the accused raped her and then
threatened to rape you as well. Can you confirm to this
court the time and place in question.
Witness: uhh… it was on Friday around 7pm.
Prosecutor: OK, unetsamba yekumapurisa here? Can you
produce a police report that shows that you reported
this matter at all?
‘OK, do you have a police report?’
Witness: No, I did not go to the police.
Prosecutor: Well you have failed then to show to this court the
basis of your history, worse still, no police report. I would
suggest kuti murikunyepera dare rino.
‘I would suggest that you are lying to this court.’
Again, as we have seen in examples of DMWs, women would make use of code switching in order to avoid confronting their Shona women identity where explicit sexual subject remains unacceptable.
Prosecutor: … so how did you have sex naye? Usanyare hako
take your time we will wait for you to tell us.
‘… so how did you have sex with her? Do not be shy…’
Accused: uhm.. ndakamukanda pamubhedha and… uhm
ndobva nadamubvisa pant yake then… uhm I put chinhu
changu mune chake.
‘I threw her on the bed and… uhm I removed her
panties then I put my thing into hers’
Prosecutor: What are you referring to as chinhu? What is it
called, the place yawakaisa chinhu chako?
‘What are you referring to as “thing”? What is the
name of the entity where you put your “thing”?
Accused: Ndakaisa… uhm… penis yangu muvagina make.
‘I put… uhm… my penis into her vagina’
Another reason to switch in this case to the opposite switch to chiShona takes place when the prosecutor uses a solemn and serious tone to raise possibilities to win the case.
Prosecutor: Your Worship, nekuti the accused akamushvira
kamwe chete pasina wirirano, eh zvinotipa enough
evidence to sentence him in accordance to the
terms of Section 318 of the Criminal Procedure and
Evidence amendment number 8 of 1997.
‘Your Worship, because the accused rape her once,
he gives us enough evidence…’
Mugari et al. article concludes with a call for individuals in charge of the court proceedings to understand the nature of these patterns of language. This attention-grabbing gesture is in correlation with Montoya’s argument in La Raza Law Journal: “The essay proposes that linguistics norms in law schools can be refashioned through pedagogical innovations to minimize their subordinating effects”(147). And that for that should contribute providing understanding and pedagogical innovation to the matter.
Josephine Chavez’s case when discussed in Montoya’s law classroom forgot to pay attention to cultural, linguistic or socioeconomic specific contexts that could have helped the students to conceive the case in its complexity, and keeping them in the surface of the capital importance of contextualization. Discussions in the legal field being controlled by certain linguistic and socio-cultural norms condemn Outsiders to perpetuate the same experiences, such as Josephine Chavez or more recently in Zimbabwean rape victims narratives.
In Chavez’s case, words and, more important, concepts should have been analyzed in Spanish. Chavez’s case needs to make visible a representation of the bicultural identity of the client and needs to show a kind of storytelling that “has been taboo in the traditional law school classroom” (150).
Thus, Chavez’s case should have implicated information on terms like familia, vergüenza and respeto. These three terms being encoded in Spanish are demonstrating two different meanings and also allow us to recuperate the authenticity of Chavez’s story and a form to transgress the traditional domination.
- [Crim. No. 579. Fourth Dist. Jan. 10, 1947.] THE PEOPLE, Respondent, v. JOSEPHINE CHAVEZ, Appellant. https://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/2d/77/621.html
 Dewaele, Jean-Marc (2010). Emotions in multiple languages. Basingstoke: Palgave Macmillan.
 Panayiotou, Alexia (2004). Switching codes, switching code: Bilinguals’ emotional responses in English and Greek. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 25(3):124 – 39.
 Burr, Vivien (2015). Social constructionism. 3rd edn. London: Routledge.
 Dewaele, Jean-Marc (2016). Multi-competence and emotion. In Vivian Cook & Lei Wei (eds.), The Cambridge handbook of linguistic multi-competence, 461 – 77. Cambridge: Cambrige University Press.
 Bond, Michael Harris, & Tat-ming Lai (1986). Embarrassment and code-switching into a second language. The Journal of Social Psychology 126(2):170 – 86.
 Martinovic, Ines, & Jeanette Altarriba (2013). Bilingualism and emotion: Implications for mental health. In Tej K. Bhatia & William C. Ritchie (eds.)
 Pavlenko, Aneta (2004). ‘Stop doing that, la komu skazala!’: Language choice and emotions in parent-child communication. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 25(3):179 – 203.
 Hans J. Ladegaard (2018) Codeswitching and emotional alignment: Talking about abuse in domestic migrant-worker returnee narratives, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Language in Society 47, 693 – 714.
 Terahni, Noreen, & Sarah Vaughan (2009). Lost in translation: Using bilingual differences to increase emotional mastery following bullying. Conselling and Psychotherapy Research 9(1):11 – 17.
 Harvey, Mary R. ; Elliot G. Mishler; Karestan Konen; & Patricia A. Harney (2000). In the aftermath of sexual abuse: Making and remarking meaning in narratives of trauma and recovery. Narrative Inquiry 10(2):291 – 311.
 Margaret Montoya, Mascaras, Trenzas, y Grenas: Un/Masking the Self While Un/Braiding Latina Stories with Legal Discourse, 17 Harvard Journal of Law and Gender 185 (1994).
 Muysken, Pieter. Bilingual Speech : A Typology of Code-Mixing. Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2000.
Jacqueline Toribio A. Book Review: Bilingual speech: A typology of codemixing Pieter Muysken (2000) Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521-77168 -4, pp.xvi+ 306.
 Beatriz Cortabarria (2015) The role of translators and interpreters in hybrid English–Spanish contexts in the USA, Language and Intercultural Communication, 15:3, 407-423,DOI: 10.1080/14708477.2015.1015345
 Victor Mugari, Laston Mukaro, Lovemore Mutonga, Nhamo W Samasuwo & Maxwell Kadenge (2015) Code-switching among chiShona-English bilinguals in courtroom discourse: Rape cases in Zimbabwe, South African Journal of African Languages, 35:2, 207-214,DOI: 10.1080/02572117.2015.1113008.
 Montoya, Margaret, Law and Language(s): Image, Integration and Innovation (1994). Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, Vol. 7, No. 2, 1994.
If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!Find out more
Cite This Work
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:
Related ServicesView all
DMCA / Removal Request
If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have the essay published on the UK Essays website then please: