Glimpses of semantic restructuring of English emotion-laden words of American English L1 users residing outside the USA
The present exploratory study focuses on the effect of living outside the USA on the understanding of the meaning, the perceived offensiveness and the self-reported frequency of use of four English emotion-laden words of British origin and four English emotion-laden words of American origin among 556 first (L1) users of American English. Statistical analyses revealed that the scores of the Americans living in the UK or in non-English-speaking countries differed significantly from those of compatriots living in the USA. Positive relationships emerged between multilingualism and scores on the dependent variables for the four British words, but no link emerged between languages known and the dependent variables for the American words. This is interpreted as an indication that semantic representations of emotion-laden words originating from another variety of the L1 are relatively weaker and are more likely to shift as a result of exposure to their use in other varieties, and the knowledge of other languages.
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