“Language Identity” is 
a design experience
made for bilinguals to make them more aware of their emotional states, when they speak different languages
#datavisualisation of answers to a series of questions turns to a jewellery
*This is Individual MA Thesis Project, designed during spring-summer 2021
The goal is to help bilinguals gain a better understanding of them-selves and their emotions through the languages they speak.
Language Identity:
1. collects data on the spoken languages of bilinguals
2. analyses levels of emotional reactions to different emotional phrases (they are measured through E4 wristband technology)
3. creates customised data visualisation of languages in the form of a pendant
The product is used by bilinguals on iPod in an isolated booth.

Research: Bilingual people

There are many people in the world, who speak more than one language in everyday life, they are called bilingual. On the one hand, because of rising mobility, people discover new cultures, learn and use many languages. Two of three children grow up in multilingual contexts. On another hand, globalization is threatening diversity, with consequences of language death. Because of globalization, people stop speaking their native languages. Among all 7,000 languages, around 5% of the world’s languages are present on the Internet, and nearly half are in danger of disappearing. Language is a part of culture, so when a language dies, a part of a culture dies, and a unique way of seeing the world dies.

Languages & emotions

Many bilingual people experience a split of personalities when they speak different languages. The first language or mother tongue is represented as a language of the unconscious and a second language is a language of rationality. Some people use a second language to keep an emotional distance from some events that happened in their childhood. Bilinguals feel themselves and the world around them in different ways and even can analyze the same events in different ways just because they use different languages. Bilinguals can have different perceptions of emotional phrases in each language they speak. Humor, swear words and emotional phrases like “I love you”, “Aren’t you ashamed” or “Go to your room!” don’t sound the same in a first and second language.


Culture affects language and, as a result, affects the perception of a situation. This implies that language is formed in cognition. Culture and society go hand in hand with language and can change people’s image of themselves and their identity. These factors have direct effects on the absorption of different cultures, which influences forming the self-identity of bilingual people. Because of diversity, it’s hard for bilingual people to identify themselves. Society compares them with the standards of the culture in their country. Some bilinguals identify themselves as belonging to two or more cultures and some feel in between those two cultures and hide their bicultural identity.


Previously executed studies that intended to understand emotions in different languages were not effective. Hence, there is a requirement for a more effective and accurate method of data collection accompanied by visualisation of this data.


The main part of the “Language Identity” experience was a questionnaire, that is created to collect data on bilinguals and to focus on the differences between spoken languages. During the research, we figured out that bilinguals have different perceptions of emotional phrases in different languages.


Considering the diversity of bilingual people and the fact that people’s experience in languages played a key part in visualising their data in the form of a pendant, there was a developed set of personas.


The next step was brainstorming and sketching wireframes and pendants. The goal and challenge was to create a pendant, that included all data of personas collected during the questionnaire, so the user could make sense of the visualisation and remember the results of the experience.

User flow

The user flow was created based on personas. It is mostly linear because the experience needs to follow the same phases for any user. However, the user’s experience in languages is different, and answers to questions affect the visualisation of the pendant.

Visualizing language family

In the beginning of the questionnaire user needs to choose their spoken languages.

The circles represent different language families, which size depends on the number of speakers. It leads to choosing branches of languages till the user reaches the spoken language.

Listening-speaking system

The “speaking star” changes from static to animated when audio-questions are asked - two circles disconnect and make patters.

The “voice recording” makes lines and little dots appear around it when the user speaks. While listening and speaking, also text appears in order to make the experience accessible.

Break the ice

After choosing a language the user answers simple questions in the chosen language. It tests users’ ability to understand that language and immerses users in interaction.

It’s important to “break the ice” and let the user get used to answering the questions by voice for further questions.

Language timeline

The user has to choose a year they started speaking a language. It’s possible by scrolling the timeline down, then it transforms into a circle. The circumference represents length of the timeline.

Changing background

The following questions figure out who the user speaks different languages with (i.e., parents, romantic partner, friends, colleagues). The colour of the background changes depending on the chosen answer. The colour combination is used in the final visualisation.

Collecting emotional response

To understand how user’s feel themselves speaking different languages, we need technology that would collect emotional feedback to audio-visual questions.

The E4 wristband measures pulse and transfers data in real-time, which helps to effectively analyse emotions.

There were researched alternative technologies.However, EEG headset needs laboratory setup and neurologist’s decoding and Emotion recognition technology algorithm can’t effectively recognize what emotions a person experiences by only scanning face expression. That's why E4 wristband is the most suitable for the project’s goal.

Emotional palette

By the previously analysed research* some emotional phrases like “I love you”, “Aren’t you ashamed?”, and “Go to your room!”, also swear words and lie trigger emotional reaction in people and depend on languages a speaker use.

Together with audio that triggers the user’s emotions background colours and the text affect the perception of the information.

*Read MA Thesis Project

Emotional response by lines

The recorded lines of emotional response are combined into a visual representation of an individual emotional spectrum of a language.

The wavy lines combine and form the border of the circle that represents 4 types of emotional feedback in each language - love, fear, anger, and lie.

Wear your data

The collected data is visualised as language circles so the users can identify what answers they gave in each section of the experience.

This visualisation can be a customised 3D-printed jewellery.


“Language identity” is designed to better communicate how different languages affect different levels of emotions amongst bilingual people and encourages individuals to have a better understating of themselves in terms of the languages they speak.

Project limitations

The diversity of identity of bilingual people is complex in nature and creating more accurate and experiential knowledge about self-identity 
in different languages could be done by taking into account the following factors:
1. The lack of knowledge in the sphere of cognition and language requires a more comprehensive understanding of psychology and linguistics.
2. There is a requirement for more accurate technology, that can not only identify emotions but also create authentic categories of emotions.
3. Due to the complex diversity of individual perceptions, the project requires deeper research and testing to create a better understanding of the self-identity of bilingual people.

Future implementations

There can be future implementations of this project in terms of creating a possibility for bilingual people to connect based on similarities of language identity and this may motivate people to explore other languages and cultures more.