The aim of this blog is to serve as a meeting point to those who study or have studied English philology and, more broadly, to all those who love literature and language.

14 Jul 2008


We all remember the expressions of biculturality in literature in the work of Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “The Witch’s Husband”. And sure we all remember as well, the concept of ‘mestiza consciousness’ as Gloria Anzaldua developed it. Ortiz Cofer, in her short story, explored this concept blending opposite boundaries and perceiving experience as basically decentered. Now academics David Luna, from Baruch College and Torsten Ringberg and Laura A. Peracchio, from the University of Wisconsin have made public the results of a study on how bilingualism affects personality.
According to this research there are significant levels of “frame-shifting” (changes in self perception) in bicultural participants. The study has been made in subjects that participate in both Latino and Anglo culture, just as was the case of Abuela’s character in Cofer’s story. The authors point out that the women classified themselves as more assertive when they speak Spanish than when they spoke English. It seems that, while frame-shifting has been studied before, the new research found that biculturals switched frames more quickly and easily than bilingual monoculturals.
The authors explain that “in the Spanish-language sessions, informants perceived females as more self-sufficient and extroverted”. The study seems to conclude that “the shift in perception seems to happen unconsciously, and may have broad implications for consumer behavior and political choices among biculturals”.

Source: University of Chicago Press Journals. "Are You A Different Person When You Speak A Different Language?." ScienceDaily 26 June 2008. 14 July 2008 .


  1. A mí siempre me ha resultado curioso cómo cambiamos de estilo y en cierta forma de conducta según utilizamos una lengua u otra, incluso en el caso de no ser biculturales. En mi caso creo que influye el mayor o menor nivel de control sobre las lenguas que normalmente utilizo (castellano, euskera e inglés) unido a cómo me sitúo ante hablantes nativos de lo que para mí son segundas lenguas o las situaciones con las que las asocio o algunos rasgos idiosincrásicos de cada lengua en concreto.

    Así pues me parece que puedo sonar más segura y asertiva en castellano donde manejo más registros, me muevo en contextos más variados y controlo más matices que en las otras dos lenguas pero puede que utilice más adjetivos de aceptación tales como ‘great’, nice’, ‘wonderful’ con sus correspondientes sonrisas cuando hablo en inglés que cuando hablo en euskera, por ejemplo, aunque la situación sea la misma.

  2. A mi me ocurre algo parecido y estoy seguro de que influye cuál sea la lengua materna a la hora de expresar las emociones. Para no hablar de los procesos mentales. Aunque supongo que esto último, depende del grado de inmersión en la cultura a la que pertenece la segunda lengua. En cualquier caso parece que lengua e identidad es algo que va indisolublemente unido y para los hispanos que viven en Norteamérica no debe ser fácil conciliar el biculturalismo.
    Juan F.

  3. I took American Literature last year and I really enjoyed the sensitivity authors like Cofer and Momaday show when they approach the multiculturality subject, as proud biculturals who make the most of it.

    Regarding the article and the way we may behave when speaking different languages, I think self-confidence in what you are talking about and also fluency in the language you are speaking, play an important role.

    Biculturals do not only speak two languages, I think because they interact in completely different environments they make use of different inner mechanisms, conscious or unconsciously, a sort of mimetism with the way people around speak, as you say, the use of more adjectives when we speak English, and also a greater use of politeness. I remember after spending 2 years in England when I came back I found myself using more “please” and “thank you” in everyday situations which struck people around..