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The impact of bilingualism on hate speech perception and slur appropriation: An initial study of Italian UK residents

Zingaretti, Mattia ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5565-2538, Garraffa, Maria and Sorace, Antonella (2023) The impact of bilingualism on hate speech perception and slur appropriation: An initial study of Italian UK residents. In: Cruschina, Silvio and Gianollo, Chiara, (eds.) An Investigation of Hate Speech: Use, Identification, and Perception of Aggressive Language in Italian. 1 ed. Helsinki, Helsinki University Press (In Press)

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The complex relationship between bilingualism and emotions has been extensively studied over recent years, but the potential impact that bilingualism may have on speakers’ perceptions and reactions to an emotionally-loaded topic such as hate speech has been overlooked. The research reported in this contribution thus constitutes the first investigation of this type in the field, and asks whether hate speech perception differs for late bilinguals in their first vs second language (L1 vs L2) as well as according to factors relating to their bilingual experience, such as differences in length of residence in the L2 country and in language dominance. This study also explores whether the same factors, along with identifying with a sexual or ethnic minority, affect bilinguals’ perception of appropriateness in using slurs to react to hate speech, and whether bilinguals would appropriate slurs themselves. The bilingual group tested consists of 43 highly proficient L1 Italian speakers of L2 English, who grew up in Italy until at least the age of 16 and had been in the UK for an average of 5 years. The results of this initial study seem to indicate that the Italian UK residents tested perceive hate speech rather similarly in their L1 and L2. Importantly, despite the overall higher familiarity with L1 hate words, a longer period of residence in the UK leads to L1 hate words becoming less accessible in terms of familiarity, use and imageability, while L2 words become less offensive. Moreover, slur appropriation does not seem to be affected by any of the variables related to the bilingual experience, but rather only by the fact that the speaker identifies as part of a minority.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: In Press
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics > P 115 Bilingualism
P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
P Language and Literature > PC Romance languages
P Language and Literature > PD Germanic languages
P Language and Literature > PE English
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/8991

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