Does expressing emotions in the local language help migrants acculturate?
Previous research has shown that emotional patterns are modified by linguistic and cultural influence. The present paper adopts a different perspective on the topic, investigating whether expressing emotions in the local language (LX) could predict migrants’ acculturation attitudes towards the heritage (L1) and the host (LX) cultures. Quantitative results from 468 migrants, supported by insights from 5 interviews, indicated that a frequent use of the LX for expressing anger, love and for swearing was linked to higher levels of acculturation to the LX culture. Specifically, the LX use for expressing anger and love explained 9.1% of the variance on migrants’ LX culture acculturation, where the LX use for expressing anger was by far the best predictor. Conversely, participants’ attachment to L1 cultural practices proved unrelated to their linguistic preferences for expressing emotions. Findings provide evidence that a language can be a strong emotional bond, able to orient migrants’ acculturation attitudes.
Keywords: multilingualism, acculturation, emotions in different languages, affective socialisation, migration
Published online: 24 January 2020
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