METM22 keynote

A look inside the multilingual mind: how words and contexts interact as we understand and produce language

Jon Andoni Duñabeitia

How do bilinguals think? Are we the same person when speaking our native language and our second (third, etc.) language? How are our emotions related to the languages we speak? How does a multilingual’s mental lexicon (or “mental dictionary”) differ from a monolingual’s? These and similar questions are attracting the attention of many researchers in the cognitive neuroscience of language, where recent studies show that certain aspects of the human mind largely depend on the surrounding linguistic context. We also know that the mental lexicon in multilinguals differs qualitatively and quantitatively from that of monolinguals, where critical interactions lead to radically different ways of processing words. In the multilingual mind, the words of the different languages we speak fiercely compete as we process, comprehend and produce language. In this talk I will present some of the most compelling findings from research into the relationship between multilingualism and thought, demonstrating how our thinking and feeling shifts depending on the language in use at the time. I will also present some of the more well-established effects uncovered by the cognitive science of language that demonstrate the impressive capacity of the human being to communicate in and manage more than one language.
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About the presenter

Jon Andoni Duñabeitia is a cognitive scientist of language whose main research interests are the neurobiological structures and cognitive processes that underlie multilingualism and reading and how these develop over the lifespan. He is Full Professor at Nebrija University (Madrid), where he directs the Cognitive Science Center (CINC), and he has a secondary appointment as Full Professor (Professor II) in the Department of Language and Culture at the Arctic University of Norway. He has published over 130 articles on multilingual literacy, bilingualism and the cognitive science of language, and he also appears on Spanish radio and television and in print media to talk about language, multilingualism and learning.