Jennifer Hay (University of Canterbury) will present a virtual colloquium on February 16th 3:30-5:00pm, 2024. Please fill out the RSVP form for Zoom information.
Title: What do non-Māori speakers in New Zealand know about the Māori language?
Abstract: Most New Zealanders do not speak or understand the Māori language, yet are nonetheless exposed to the language regularly in their ambient environment. Our research programme examines the degree to which this ambient exposure leads to implicit language knowledge. This talk summarizes a series of experiments that demonstrate that non-speakers of Māori who live in New Zealand have extensive implicit knowledge of Māori wordforms and phonotactics. They also have implicit knowledge about the structure of Māori words and sentences. Finally, we show that this implicit language can be ‘awoken’ in the classroom – New Zealanders with greater implicit knowledge have an advantage in the language-learning classroom, if they decide to undertake explicit learning of the Māori language.
The language learning abilities that have been observed in many laboratory language learning experiments are thus also reflected in the knowledge of a real language among adults who do not speak it but have been exposed to it over years of daily life. This provides a real-world example of the impressive degree to which humans automatically orient to language stimuli in their ambient environment.