Keywords: Late bilinguals, emotion words, psycholinguistics


Language-emotion link has been a subject of interest for several decades. It has been studied extensively both in the monolingual and bilingual literature. However, due to the numerous factors that are at play in bilingualism, i.e. age and context of acquisition, frequency of use, there is conflicting evidence regarding the emotional load of each language of bilinguals. A great bulk of evidence leans towards the L1 as the more emotional language. This study investigates the perceived emotionality in the late learned language. Our participants (N = 57) were late bilinguals who learned their second language (English) in formal contexts after their first language (Turkish). We used a lexical decision task in which the participants determined whether the visually presented emotion words were real words or non-words. In line with the literature, we report faster response times for positive than for negative words in both languages. Also, the results showed L1 superiority in word processing.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Gulmira Kuruoglu

Prof. Dr. Gülmira Sadiyeva Kuruoğlu was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, where she completed her primary and secondary school education. After graduating from Baku Slavian University, Department of Russian Language and Literature in 1994, she completed her Ph.D in Psycholinguistics branch at the Institute of Linguistics, Azerbaijan Academy of Sciences in 1998. She became an Associate Professor in 2002 and Professor in 2008 in the field of General Linguistics. She has worked in Dokuz Eylul University, Department of Linguistics since 2004.


Professor Kuruoğlu is also a speech therapist (aphasiologist) and worked as an aphasiologist in Azerbaijan Republic Clinical Hospital and in Dokuz Eylul University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.


Professor Kuruoğlu has taken part in several projects on language disorders following brain damage in Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkey, and Japan. She has attended conferences on psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics in many universities in Azerbaijan, Russia, Japan, Italy, France, Turkey and etc. She presented papers in a number of international and national conferences, had many articles published in refereed journals and wrote two books titled “Aphasia: A Neurolinguistic Study” and “Neurolinguistics”.


Bradley, M.M., & Lang, P.J. (1999). Affective Norms for English Words. Instruction Manual and Affective Ratings. Available at: (accessed 1 Feb 2010)

Briesemeister, B.B., Kuchinke, L., & Jacobs A.M. (2011). Discrete emotion effects on lexical decision response times. PlosONE, 6(8), 1–9.

Caldwell-Harris, C.L., Sanches, N., & Nayaka, N. (2014). When early and late bilinguals lie: skin conductance responses during a deception task. Boston University Psycholinguistics Laboratory Working Papers. Avaliable at: (accessed 10 June 2017).

Chen, P., Lin, J., Chen, B., Lu, C., & Guo, T. (2015). Processing emotional words in two languages with one brain: ERP and fMRI evidence from Chinese-English bilinguals. Cortex, 71, 34–48.

De Bruin, A., Sala, S.D., & Bak, T.H. (2016). The effects of language use on lexical processing in bilinguals. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 31(8), 967–974.

Dewaele, J.M. (2004a). The emotional force of swear words and taboo words in the speech of multilinguals. Journal of Multilingualism and Multicultural Development, 25(2–3), 204–222.

Dewaele, J.M. (2004b). Blistering barnacles! What languages do multilinguals swear in? Estudios de Sociolinguistica, 5(1), 83–105.

Dijkstra, T., & van Heuven, W.T.B. (2002). The architecture of the bilingual word recognition system: from identification to decision. Bilingualism: Brain and Cognition, 5(3),175–197.

Estes, Z., & Adelman, J.S. (2008). Automatic vigilance for negative words in lexical decision and naming: Comment on Larsen, Mercer and Balota. Emotion, 8(4), 441–444.

Faust, M., Ben-Artzi, E., & Vardi, N. (2012). Semantic processing in native and second language: Evidence from hemispheric differences in fine and coarse semantic coding. Brain and Language, 123, 228–233.

Gollan, T.H., Montoya, R.İ, Cera, C., & Sandoval, T.C. (2008). More use almost always means smaller frequency effect: Aging, bilingualism and the weaker links hypothesis, Journal of Memory and Language, 58(3), 787–814.

Grabitz, C.R., Watkins, K.E., & Bishop, D.V.M. (2016). Cerebral lateralization of first and second languages in bilinguals assessed by functional transcranial Doppler ultrasound. Welcome to Open Research, 1, 15.

Göz, İ. (2003). Yazılı Türkçe’nin Kelime Sıklığı Sözlüğü. Ankara: Türk Dil Kurumu Yayınları.

Harris, C.L. (2004). Bilingual speakers in the lab: psychophysiological measures of emotional reactivity. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 25(2), 223–247.

Hsu, C., Jacobs, A.M., & Conrad, M. (2015). Can Harry Potter still put a spell on us in a second language ? An fMRI study on reading emotion-laden literature in late bilinguals. Cortex, 63, 282–295.

Jonczyk, R., Boutonnet, B., Kamil Musial, K., Hoemann, K., & Guillaume Thierry (2016). The bilingual brain turns a blind eye to negative sentences in the second language. Cognitive Affective Behavioral Neuroscience, 16, 527–540.

Kazanas, S. A., & Altarriba, J. (2016). Emotion word processing: Effects of word type and valence in Spanish-English bilinguals. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 45, 395–406.

Kim, S.H.O., & Starks, D. (2008). The role of emotions in L1 attrition: The case of Korean-English late bilinguals in New Zealand. International Journal of Bilingualism, 12(4), 303–319.

Kissler, J., Herbert, C., Winkler, I., & Junghofer, M. (2009). Emotion and attention in visual word processing – an ERP study. Biological Psychology, 80, 75–83.

Kissler, J., & Koessler, S. (2011). Emotionally positive stimuli facilitate lexical decisions – an ERP study. Biological Psychology, 86(3), 254–264.

Knickerbocker, H., Johnson, R.L., & Altarriba, J. (2015). Emotion effects during reading: Influence of an emotion target word on eye movements and processing. Cognition and Emotion, 29(5), 784–806.

Kousta, S.T., Vinson, D.P., & Vigliocco, G. (2009). Emotion words, regardless of polarity have a processing advantage over neutral words. Cognition, 112(3), 473–481.

Larsen, R.J., Kimberley, A., Mercer, K.A., & Balota, D.A. (2006). Lexical characterstics of words used in emotional stroop experiments. Emotion, 6(1), 62–72.

Lehtonen, M., Hulten, A., Rodrigez-Fornells, A. Cunillera, T., Tuomainen, J., & Laine, M. (2012). Differences in word recognition between early bilinguals and monolinguals: behavioral and ERP evidence. Neuropsychologia, 50(7), 1362–1371.

Mergen, F., & Kuruoglu, G. (2018). A comparison of bilinguals’ lexical processing in their two languages. Pamukkale Üniverstesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi, 33, 149–155.

Ong, E., Hussain, S., Chow, Y., & Thompson, C. (2017). Variations in Bilingual Processing of Positive and Negative Information. In 6th Annual International Conference on Cognitive and Behavioral Psychology (pp. 36–42).

Opitz, B., & ve Degner, J. (2012). Emotionality is a second language: It’s a matter of time. Neuropsychologia, 50(8), 1961–1967.

Palazova, M., Mantwill, K., Sommer, W., & Schacht, A. (2011). Are emotion effects in single words non-lexical? Evidence from event-related potentials. Neuropsychologia, 49(9), 2766–2775.

Paradis, M. (2004). A Neurolinguistic Theory of Bilingualism. Holland: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Pavlenko, A. (2004). “Stop doing that, la komu skalaza!”: Language choice and emotions in parent-child communication. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 25(2–3), 179–203.

Pavlenko, A. (2012). Affective processing in bilingual speakers: disembodied cognition? International Journal of Psychology, 47(6), 405–428.

Segalowitz, N.,Trofimovich, P., Gatbonton, E., & Sokolovskaya, A. (2008). Feeling affect in a second language. The role of word recognition automaticity. The Mental Lexicon, 3(1), 47–71.

Toivo, W., & Scheepers, C. (2019). Pupillary responses to affective words in bilinguals’ first versus second language. PlosOne, 14(4), 1–20.

Vinson, D., Ponari, M., & Vigliocco, G. (2014). How does emotional content affect lexical processing? Cognition and Emotion, 28(4), 737–746.

Winskel, H. (2013). The emotional Stroop task and emotionality rating of negative and neutral words in late Thai-English bilinguals. International Journal of Psychology, 48(6), 1090–1098.

Abstract views: 123
PDF Downloads: 91 PDF Downloads: 1 PDF Downloads: 3
How to Cite
Mergen, F., & Kuruoglu, G. (2021). PROCESSING EMOTION WORDS IN THE LATE-LEARNED L2. Psycholinguistics in a Modern World, 16, 205-212.

Most read articles by the same author(s)