Indiana University

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Events for the week :
August 18, 2013 - August 24, 2013
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  • Yucatec Maya Teacher Education and the Struggle for a Standard Language

    Time: 01:00pm - 02:00pm 

    Place: School of Education (BLED), room 2101


    Anne Marie Guerrettaz (Dissertation defense)

    This ethnographic study investigates Yucatec Maya language revitalization pedagogy by focusing on the language planning implementation process and the crucial on-the-ground agents of this process, teachers. In the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, Spanish is the dominant language while Maya is a non-standardized indigenous minority language. This 10-month study investigated a large teacher education program, a Maya language course for 1,600 public school educators in the Indigenous Education System of the Yucatan Peninsula.

    Data included approximately 250 hours of classroom discourse, 33 interviews with teacher learners and other stakeholders, 9 focus groups, ethnographic field notes, and surveys, which were analyzed using ethnographically-grounded discourse analytic methods. Although standard Maya does not exist either officially or in practice, participants in this Maya language course repeatedly expressed concerns with various aspects of standard language. The concept of standard language, drawing on Widdowson (1994), offered a theoretical framework through which to analyze these findings.

    Diverse stakeholders understood the notion of standard Maya differently, and three distinct conceptualizations of standard Maya emerged from the data. The first is a top-down institutional standard, las nuevas normas de la lengua maya (“the new standards for Maya language”). These include official norms of spelling, grammar, lexicon, and pronunciation that linguists and government institutions are in the process of establishing. The second, jach maya (“real Maya”), is an illusory prestige variety that teachers idealize. Jach maya is associated with a semi-mystical language of the past and an ideology of linguistic purity. A third conceptualization of the standard, “A Maya that Flows,” is based on vernacular Maya and includes borrowings from Spanish, unlike las normas or jach maya. Analysis suggests that a vernacular-based standard is the most viable from a linguistic perspective. Additionally, in the pedagogical implementation of language planning, awareness of issues surrounding linguistic standardization is an invaluable component of language teacher expertise.


    In category: Sociolinguistics and pragmatics


  • Deaf and L2 learner modality preference in lexical retrieval: Hand-based vs sound-based phonology

    Time: 01:30pm - 02:30pm 

    Place: Psychology 128 (conference room)


    Joshua Williams

    For decades deaf reading skills have stayed relatively stagnant, approximately at the 4th grade level. Debates on phonemic awareness training, American Sign Language (ASL) ability, or the use of a manual English system have reached no definitive conclusion. The investigation of linguistic codes is either based on English-based or sign-based phonology. Only recently have researchers started to investigate fingerspelling as an alternate code. Fingerspelling straddles a unique cross- modal and linguistic bridge between ASL and English as it is a manual representation of the English alphabet in ASL, which a one-to-one mapping provides L1-specific representations to decode an L2 orthography system (cf. phoneme-to-grapheme mapping). We used a priming paradigm in order to start to delineate the networks involved in fingerspelling and print. The results showed that deaf signers utilize handshape information to access fingerspelled lexical items. However, deaf do not seem to show a strong relationship to their sign semantic network. Hearing learners of American Sign Language may need to directly access their orthographic representations in order to decode fingerspelling as they did not show priming in any ASL/English phonological conditions besides the semantic condition. Hearing learners seem to differ from deaf signers in their lexical organization as deaf signers may have multiple routes for decoding. Orthographic priming provides tentative data to suggest fingerspelling is processed by accessing an orthographic system by deaf readers and hearing learners need their orthographic system to decode fingerspelling.


    In category: Second language acquisition


August 24

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