As some of you know, we’ve been planning to study certain aspect of language production in Mayan for some time now. Well, planning has been followed by flying, and now we (Elisabeth Norcliffe, Stanford University, and I) are here and ready to run our first studies!
Elisabeth (henceforth Lis) arrived in Valladolid a couple of days ago and I joined her yesterday. Thanks to the help of several awesome people we were off to a relatively easy start. Thanks to all those friends of Lis and friends of friends of friends …, including Serapio, his brother and his family; Juergen Bohnemeier at the UofBuffalo; John Lucy at the UofChicago; Michal Brody and Marta Poop at the Universidad de Oriente (UNO), and others at UNO whose name I can’t remember. Thanks also to y’all at HLP lab who worked extra hours over the last weeks or helped otherwise: Katrina Housel, Sarah Brown, and Irene, for the creating and categorizing the video and picture stimuli, for cutting the sound files, and so much more; Andrew Watts and Edward Longhurst for programming the ExBuilder scripts to run a bunch of different methodologies; and again Serapio, for helping Lis to create the stimuli and for recording them!
Right now we’re spending our days at the Universidad de Oriente in Valladolid (Yucatan, Mexico), where everybody has been extremely helpful in letting us use their office space, giving us access to the student population, and helping us translate instructions, etc. into Mayan. Apparently, the UNO (Universidad de Oriente) is one of the first state universities here, allowing locals to study in one of three areas for affordable fees. From what I gather so far, the administration here is very interested in connections to other universities (many of the faculty here are from the US), so I’m already thinking about further projects. There is even more, but I think I will withhold this information for now ;-).
Tomorrow, we will run the first pilots on availability-based production effects on word/construction choice and on the production of optional morphology. I’ll post a first impression here soon.
In addition to more subjects, we’re also looking for annotators and it seems that there are quite a few students and teachers here with linguistic training (as a matter of fact, they found us rather then the other way around). The long term idea would be to train students here in annotation and maybe even in running experiments, which would give them a chance to learn about these aspect of linguistic research, and it would give us a change to efficiently run experiments on a language that has barely been studied psycho-linguistically (which is not to discount the linguistic work that has already been done on Yucatec).