Publication details [#60911]

Leończyk, Aleksandra. 2016. The role of language proficiency in the perception of L2 taboo words by late bilingual speakers. EUROSLA Yearbook 16 : 25–58.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


Cognitive research has established that there exists a significant difference between L1 and L2 with regard to emotional speech processing. Harris, Ayçiçeĝi and Gleason (2003) and Dewaele (2004) have shown that L1 taboo words evoke greater emotional arousal than their L2 counterparts. According to Harris (2004), an L2 acquired early and in a naturalistic setting gains the features of L1 in terms of emotional interference. However, the data from one of the areas of emotional speech processing in bilinguals, i.e. the experimental data about late bilinguals, is still scarce. The present study aims to trace the effects of proficiency and language exposure on the perceived emotional charge of L2 taboo and curse words by late bilinguals. 106 highly proficient Polish-English bilinguals, who were students on an English Studies program at the time of testing, took part in the Emotional Stroop task (Williams, Mathews & MacLeod 1996) and their reaction times were measured. The results discussed with reference to previous findings in the literature suggest that the emotional input provided during second language acquisition is too weak to effectively form affective connotations to L2 utterances.