Lateralization of emotion word in the first and second language: Evidence from Turkish‐English bilinguals

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Mergen F., KURUOĞLU G.

Russian Journal of Linguistics, vol.27, no.2, pp.316-333, 2023 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 27 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.22363/2687-0088-30464
  • Journal Name: Russian Journal of Linguistics
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.316-333
  • Keywords: emotion words, English, late bilinguals, lateralization, psycholinguistics, Turkish
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: Yes


As interest in cognitive sciences has grown over the years, language representation in the brain has increasingly become the subject of psycholinguistic studies. In contrast to the relatively clear picture in monolingual language processing, there is still much controversy over bilinguals’ processing of their two languages. The goal of this paper is therefore to provide more evidence on the way emotion words are processed and represented in the brain in late bilinguals. The study seeks to answer three questions: 1. Are positive words processed faster than negative and neutral words in both languages of bilinguals? 2. Is there a difference in the speed in which emotion words are processed in the first (L1) and second language (L2) of bilinguals? 3. How are emotion words represented in the bilingual brain? Participants were late Turkish-English bilinguals (N = 57). We used a visual hemi-field paradigm, in which the stimuli were presented either on the right or left of a computer screen. By pressing the designated keys, the participants performed a lexical decision task in which they determined whether the visually presented L1 and L2 words were real words or non-words. The first result showed that positive words are processed faster than negative and neutral words in both languages of bilinguals, providing further support for the differential processing of emotion words. Second, longer response times were found for L2 as compared to L1. Finally, we found bilateral hemispheric representation for both English and Turkish. These results contribute to the psycholinguistic literature by providing evidence from the relatively understudied language pairs such as English and Turkish.