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.
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)].
In September, 2014, we gave a series of community presentations in the CNMI at:
- Ufisinan Mayot Luta/Office of the Mayor on Rota
- American Memorial Park on Saipan
- Tinian Public Library
Our goal was both to talk about some of the generational and geographic differences in how Chamorro is understood, based on the experiments we conducted in Summer 2013 (more details below).
Slides: The Chamorro language across islands and generations
Video: Part 1, Part 2 (Rota Mayor’s Office)
Many thanks to the office of Melchior T. Mendiola and Tita A. Hocog on Rota, The NMI Humanities Council and Eulalia S. Villagomez on Saipan, and Florine M. Hofschneider and Gineftao i Manmo’na on Tinian for their assistance in planning these presentations. Special thanks to Ike Mendiola of Rota for camera work and video editing.
How does the Chamorro language differ across islands and across generations? Everyone knows there are differences in the Chamorro words people know and how they pronounce them, but what about the grammar? In this presentation, we talk about some of our recent psycholinguistic experiments on Saipan, Tinian and Rota. In these experiments, we investigated how people understand relative clauses. Unlike English, which has only one word order for relative clauses, Chamorro has three. This makes Chamorro a good language for investigating how speakers comprehend complex sentences. Our results reveal some interesting linguistic differences across the three islands, but they also show that speakers’ ability to understand relative clauses is fully maintained across the generations. Finally, we ask for the community’s help in identifying other differences in Chamorro grammar that we could investigate.
Presented by Dr. Matt Wagers at the 2014 meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (February, Chicago, IL) in the session “The Large Cognitive Implications of Small Languages”.
Language processing in Chamorro: lessons from a language of the Pacific
This presentations discusses the relationship between universal language processing principles and language-specific properties of Chamorro.
Maprisenta i “2012 Linguistic Society of America Presidential Address” as Dr. Sandy Chung gi Portland, OR, gi Eneru dia 7. Sumåonao si Manuel F. Borja yan si Dr. Matt Wagers. Madiskuti i risuttan i fine’nina na “experiment” gi finu’ Chamorro ni makondukta giya Saipan, Tinian, yan Luta gi Huliu 2011:
Bridging methodologies: experimental syntax in the Pacific
Sandy Chung presented the 2012 Linguistic Society of America Presidential Address in Portland, OR, on 7 January. Also taking part were Manuel F. Borja and Matt Wagers. Results from the first Chamorro language experiment, conducted on Saipan, Tinian, and Luta in July 2011, were discussed.
This address covers much of the material described in our Language paper.