Re: Bakhtin and genre and... language learning

From: Angel Lin (
Date: Sun May 11 2003 - 18:40:49 PDT

Hi Jay,

Aneta Pavlenko just did a study looking at any differences in feeling in
different languages; perhaps someone on the list might know the reference;
I'll also e-mail her for the ref.

While Aneta's study used a cross-national/cultural questionnaire survey, it
might also be good to use other qualitative, or narrative methods.

I certainly feel that I take on different identities and live out different
subjectivities when I speak different languages, subscribe to different
dress codes, wear my hair in different ways (or fashion my body in
different manners), and speaking is just part of acting, being, doing /
living-in-a-world-with-different-selves-and-others. I remember having to
often switch to English to gain respect in many job settings (and to dress
older to gain respect), to negotiate, to argue for a point and get
listeners; sometimes I have to switch back to Cantonese and Mandarin
Chinese to gain a sense of friendliness and solidarity. Feelingwise, I
feel stronger when I speak English--more adventurous, and more willing to
be outspoken; I do feel that it shapes how I feel about (and position)
myself when speaking different languages in different settings; I feel most
relaxed when I can freely code-mix and code-switch; most guarded when I
cannot freely code-mix and code-switch. That's to do with speaking;
writing is different. I feel most relaxed when writing in English in an
open discussion mode, and with reading, I feel I live in different worlds
when reading in different languages; reading Chinese leisure reading is
like meeting an old friend and chatting with her/him, reading Chinese
scientific/technical writing is like meeting a Western-dressed,
practical-minded, Chinese professor, and reading English formal writings
feels like going into a university library--cold and rational; reading pop
English literature is like tuning in to pop TV and music. No doubt, our
life histories as well as the larger sociopolitical structures in which we
are situated and positioned shape our feelings, which are never purely
"individual" as popular psychology would have us believe; our feelings I
believe are through and through social and political--i.e., how we have
been habituated / constructed to feel in certain ways in certain settings
with certain people speaking in certain languages about certain topics.


At 06:41 PM 5/11/2003 -0400, you wrote:
>Which leaves me at a point I often come to with this topic: What about
>FEELING in a foreign language? what about our language-indexed identities?
>what about how we feel in our bodies when we are speaking different
>languages? It might be amusing to try to capture the feeling of a native
>speaker, but more realistically, are there just DIFFERENCES in how we
>feel, in our habitus, our dispositions towards others and toward
>situations, when we are in the experiential world of speaking-X vs.
>speaking-Y? And recognizing that speaking here is always just part of
>acting, being, doing ... but perhaps in a different key?

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Jul 08 2003 - 11:29:41 PDT