DWIVEDI: Our emotions and identity can affect how we use grammar

Veena Dwivedi, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Brock University, had a piece recently published in The Conversation about research she conducted that underlines how emotional context affects how humans understand and use language at the neural level.

She writes:

“Language and social identity have been making headlines recently. Last month, Air Canada’s CEO Michael Rousseau faced scrutiny over not knowing French — his language deficit is helping support Bill 96 in Québec (which seeks to change the Canadian Constitution to affirm Québec as a nation and French its official language). Meanwhile Indian chain store Fabindia had to change advertisements for its festive Diwali clothing line from its Urdu name to appease Hindu nationalist politicians. 

Language can evoke a strong social and emotional response. But the dominant theory of language in linguistics, thanks to Noam Chomsky (and the one in which I was trained), fails to consider these aspects. 

In linguistics, and in cognitive science in general, the human mind is conceived of metaphorically as a computer with different algorithms for different procedures — with no reference to emotion or social context.

A better understanding of language and its neuroscientific basis would help us handle linguistic issues throughout our lives. My new research underlines how emotional context affects how we understand and use language at the neural level. It also identifies a piece of the human language puzzle that has, up until now, been missing.”

Continue reading the full article on The Conversation website.

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