The Effect of Multilingualism on Cognition, Memory, and Emotions: A Review

Fotini Anastassiou


A very popular field in research on bilingualism and multilingualism is how bilingual and multilingual people perceive and express their feelings and which languages they prefer each time (Pavlenko, 2012). A fascinating issue is that of distancing oneself from an L2 - something that has also been discussed in the texts of bilingual writers who have stated that their L2 was for them a less emotionally charged language, in comparison with their L1. Besides, a speaker often uses his L1 to express emotions, since each language can convey distinct emotional meanings according to the interlocutors and the context.  

Moreover, research on conscious event retrieval and autobiographical memory has also provided evidence for memory and language, as it has been found that memories tend to be more readily available for retrieval in the language in which they first appeared. Bilinguals generally report their memories in more detail and the level of processing during memory retrieval is higher in the language in which the event occurred. The exploration of the effect of multilingualism on memory and emotions is a promising field that can help educators and academics better understand the speakers’ abilities and specific attributes.

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