SummaryGoalsResearch methodology


Emotional charge of the basic lexical repertoire of Spanish as a second language from a cross-linguistic perspective.

Almost every word in our mother tongue is emotionally charged. There is no linguistic meaning that is not sifted by the emotional. During the process of mother tongue acquisition, words are incorporated with experiential, perceptual and emotional meaning, which are responsible for their anchoring in lexical networks and memory and keep being fed by these dimensions for a lifetime. In L2 acquisition, it seems that this does not happen in the same way as in L1, and that the simple transfer of a word from one language to the second does not imprint its emotional content on the new word.

Numerous studies have attempted to test the extent to which words in L2 are devoid or diminished of the emotional resonance they have in L1 and what factors contribute to this. The results show a decrease in intensity in the L2 for both positive and negative affective charge. This is independent of the actual comprehension of the information, as bilinguals often say that they know the semantic meaning of the information in L2, but do not necessarily feel it.

The aim of this study is to analyse the emotional resonance of Spanish as a second language and to check to what extent it decreases in contrast to the mother tongues concerned. To this end, we will collect and analyse data from three sources: the affective values of a repertoire of words in Spanish as a second language obtained from emotional dimensions such as valence or degree of arousal, amongst others; the attitudes and evaluations of the students about their languages; and the self-perception of emotionality in L1 and L2. This data will be analysed taking into account different individual variables (mother tongue, gender, age, level of language proficiency, years of study, contact with the Spanish language, etc.) and different types of words at the lexical, semantic and grammatical levels.The connection of the data with their variables and their triangulation will enable us to deepen our understanding of the conceptualisation, representation and meaning of words in a second language and, by extension, of the learning processes.



  • To measure and collate the emotional charge of words in Spanish/L2, Spanish/L1 and other L1.
  • To analyse the affective values (valence, arousal, etc.) obtained in regard to the types of words in the corpus.
  • To analyse, to assess and to measure the incidence of academic, socio-cultural, affective and linguistic variables on the emotional charge.
  • To understand Spanish/L2 learners’ perceptions of their language’s ability to express emotion.
  • To link perceptions with some of the above variables (language, competence, beliefs).
  • To associate the results with some of the current theories on the emotional basis of languages and the processes of language acquisition and learning.

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What emotional charge do Spanish as a second language words have?
What factors impact on the emotional perception of the Spanish lexicon?

Research methodology

  • Creation of the corpus of words to be subjected to componential analysis by the participants. It will comprise 1000 words. For the elaboration, the following will be taken into account:
    • Lexical repertoires collected in the Curricula Plan of the Cervantes Institute for A levels
    • Prescriptive lists in Spanish
    • Prescriptive lists in other languages
  • Sample design. Features:
    • University students, men and women
    • Three levels of proficiency in Spanish: beginners, intermediate and advanced.
    • Mother tongues: English, Portuguese, French
    • Spanish is their L3
    • None of them are heritage speakers or Hispanic descendants.
  • Development of data collection instruments.
    • Socio-demographic and evaluative data instruments
      • Personal data
      • Data on beliefs and attitudes towards Spanish
      • Data on their contacts and experiences
    • Emotional values collection instrument
    • Questionnaire on self-perceptions of the emotionality of the spoken languages
  • Data processing and analysis
    • Quantitative and statistical processing and analysis
    • Qualitative processing and analysis

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