This article analyses the language of anger used by the bilinguals in Hong Kong, and examines how the functions of L1 and L2 and users' language proficiency may affect emotional expression. Thirty-three university students in Hong Kong participated in the research. Each was asked to write two stories about 'an experience in which you were made angry' and 'an experience in which you made someone angry', one in Chinese and the other in English. A total of 66 narrative texts were collected. The subjects also provided written comments on their feelings and language preferences in writing life stories. The narrative length, lexical and syntactic richness, and the use of metaphorical expressions in the Chinese and English texts were compared and triangulated with the subjects' perceptions of bilinguality and emotionality. Both the linguistic data and the written comments suggest that to a very large extent language competence affects how emotionally expressive bilinguals can be. The ability to communicate and share one's emotions is an integral part of one's personal life but the language of emotions seems to be an under-developed area in second language education programmes. Measures are suggested to address this problem and help bilinguals to develop their competence in emotional expression.
Bibliographical noteThe author is grateful to the Life Writing Research Program, Lingnan University, Hong Kong for funding research assistance in the statistical analysis of this article.
- anger vocabulary
- language proficiency