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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

LingLunch | Alex Panicacci (QMUL)

16 October 2019

Time: 1:00 - 2:00pm
Venue: Grad Center 104

For our first LingLunch this autumn, PhD student Alex Panicacci will be presenting:

Can the languages migrants use to express emotions define their cultural belonging?

The culture in which people live plays an important role in shaping their sense of self (Ryder & al., 2000) and emotional patterns (De Leersnyder, 2014). At the same time, previous research showed that individuals who live in between languages and cultures report an intriguing emotional hybridity (Pavlenko, 2005) and consider linguistic socialisation as an intense process of personal transformation (Panicacci & Dewaele, 2017). This research adopts an innovative approach to the topic by placing biographical and linguistic factors side by side. Statistical results from 468 migrants in English-speaking countries, supported by 5 follow-up interviews, revealed that the age of migration, the length of stay and the status in the host country were unrelated to participants’  perceptions of the heritage (L1) and host (LX) culture. Conversely, migrants’ language use, especially for expressing emotions, as well as L1/LX self-perceived dominance and emotionality linked with their attachment to the culture that produced that language. In other words, the cognitive and emotional embracement of the language contributed to enforce participants’ sense of belonging to the culture, explaining a variance of respectively 12.2% and 13.5% in their L1 and LX acculturation levels. Findings thus highlighted the crucial role of language use and affective socialisation in shaping individuals’ cultural belonging.



  • De Leersnyder, J. (2014). Emotional Acculturation. Procopia: Leuven.
  • Panicacci, A. & Dewaele, J.-M. (2017). “A voice from elsewhere”: acculturation, personality and migrants’ self-perceptions across languages and cultures. International Journal of Multilingualism, 2 (1), pp. 62–86
  • Pavlenko, A. (2005). Emotions and multilingualism. Cambridge: Cambridge, University Press
  • Ryder, A. G. & al. (2000). Is acculturation unidimensional or bidimensional? A head-to-head comparison in the prediction of personality, self-identity, and adjustment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79(1):49-65.


For more information, please contact events organiser Elvis Coimbra-Gomes (

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