Loving a partner in a Foreign Language

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Journal of Pragmatics, ISSN: 0378-2166, Vol: 108, Page: 116-130

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Jean-Marc Dewaele; Lora Salomidou
Elsevier BV
Arts and Humanities; Social Sciences; Computer Science
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article description
This is the first relatively large-scale study ( N = 429) based on an online questionnaire and written interviews to investigate whether language and cultural differences within cross-cultural couples made emotional communication more difficult. Opinions were divided with a third of participants claiming no difficulty and half mentioning limitations in the Foreign Language (LX) as well as a lack of emotional resonance of the LX. A minority reported experiencing a lack of genuineness at the start of the relationship. However, obstacles turned out not to be insurmountable and faded in months for more than three quarters of participants. Longer relationships led to affective socialisation in the LX and the partner's language often became the language of the heart. The speed and depth of this affective socialisation in the LX was linked to multicultural personality traits and gender, with female participants reporting more difficulties in communicating emotions and feeling less authentic at the start of the relationship. This gender difference faded over time. Female participants were also more likely to adopt their partner's language. Qualitative data revealed a wide variety of views, with over half of the participants mentioning the constraints of the LX while a quarter reported emotional liberation in the LX.