PRIM Workshop: Young Speakers in the Bottleneck

In August 2016, Sandy Chung & Matt Wagers visited the Potsdam Research Institute for Multilingualism in Germany, where we attended the Workshop on Sentence Processing in Multilingual and Other Less Commonly Studied Populations. The goal of the workshop is to discuss new findings and research directions in the study of language processing that incorporates more data from multilingual populations and other typically-ignored groups.

We gave a presentation on how younger Chamorro speakers may process language differently from older speakers. Our focus was the use of special verbal inflection in relative clauses. These complex sentences can pose challenges for younger speakers who spend less of their time speaking or using Chamorro.

You can view a PDF version of our presentation: Younger speakers in the bottleneck

We found that younger speakers have substantially the same grammatical knowledge as older speakers. However, they are more sensitive to “processing resources”: that is, certain word orders or grammatical structures create greater demands for memory and attention. Younger speakers can sometimes make errors in those scenarios. This presentation develops some ideas we shared at public presentations in the CNMI in 2014 [see The Chamorro language across islands and generations (CNMI, 2014)].