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Self-reported use and perception of the L1 and L2 among maximally proficient bi- and multilinguals: a quantitative and qualitative investigation

Dewaele, Jean-Marc (2011) Self-reported use and perception of the L1 and L2 among maximally proficient bi- and multilinguals: a quantitative and qualitative investigation. International Journal of the Sociology of Language (208), pp. 25-51. ISSN 0165-2516.

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/IJSL.2011.011

Abstract

This study investigates language preferences and perceptions in the use of the native language (L1) and second language (L2) by 386 bi- and multilingual adults. Participants declared that they were maximally proficient in L1 and L2 and used both constantly. A quantitative analysis revealed that despite their maximal proficiency in the L1 and L2, participants preferred to use the L1 for communicating feelings or anger, swearing, addressing their children, performing mental calculations, and using inner speech. They also perceived their L1 to be emotionally stronger than their L2 and reported lower levels of communicative anxiety in their L1. An analysis of interview data from 20 participants confirmed these findings while adding nuance. Indeed, differences in the use of the L1 and L2 and perceptions of both are often subtle and context-specific. Participants confirmed the finding that the L1 is usually felt to be more powerful than the L2, but this did not automatically translate into a preference for the L1. Longer stretches of time in the L2 culture are linked to a gradual shift in linguistic practices and perceptions. Participants reported that their multilingualism and multiculturalism gave them a sense of empowerment and a feeling of freedom.

Item Type: Article
School or Research Centre: Birkbeck Schools and Research Centres > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > Applied Linguistics and Communication
Depositing User: Dr JM Dewaele
Date Deposited: 05 Oct 2012 11:29
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2013 12:33
URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/5104

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