Visiting the Yucatan: more studies on Yucatec Mayan and Mexican Spanish

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Heya. There are no results yet, but Katrina Housel, Carlos Gomez Gallo, and I just came back from the Valladolid, Mexico where we piloted and ran 3 studies on Yucatec and 4 studies on Mexican Spanish.

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The studies investigate domain complexity effects (constituent length effects) and accessibility effects (givenness and animacy) on word order and construction choice.  Carlos also ran some of his Fruitcart dialogues and we recorded participants to analyze gestures (in collaboration with Susan Wagner Cook)  in addition to construction choice and the distribution of disfluencies. Over 160 students of the Universidad de Oriente (UNO) and their family members participated in the 7 studies. We also had a chance to visit the village of one of the students we met at UNO (thanks Laura!).

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It’s still much too early to say anything about the results, but it definitely was a great experience. Carlos trained two annotators while we were in Valladolid who are busily transcribing and translating, but if you speak Spanish and/or Yucatec and may be interested in helping us transcribe the over 12,000 sound files we recorded, please let us know …

The people at UNO were super friendly and helpful. A big thanks goes out to Dr. Graciela Cortez, Partricia Diaz, Carlos Lopez, Gisela Leo, Nayely Dura, Maria Teresa, and Quely Salas! As during the last visit, it also was a pleasure getting to know more about the students there (in my case, this mostly consisted out of signing and slow word by word negotiations ;), but Carlos and Katrina streamlined the process by being able to actually speak Spanish ;). Thanks also to Juergen Bohnemeyer and Elisabeth Norcliffe who provided crucial advice for the preparation of the experiments and feedback for the development of the annotation guidelines (though none of the mistakes we made should be associated with them). Oh, and, of course, it was awesome seeing old and meeting new friends (Allan, Natalia, Christoph, Quely, Anne …  hopefully, there will be another chance to hang out soon). We stayed in of Violeta’s apartments (Casa Candelaria) right at the Candelaria Park, which I can highly recommend (note: the apartments are only rented out by the week and they are often booked out in advance; it’s pricier than some of the other places, but comes with wireless and a beautiful garden and many of the UNO visitors are staying there).

If you interested in visiting Valladolid, make sure to also check out Anne’s blog about the Yucatan.

2 thoughts on “Visiting the Yucatan: more studies on Yucatec Mayan and Mexican Spanish

    […] Alice and Lindsay will take classes on Yucatec from Juergen Bohnemeyer to obtain basic speaking knowledge of Yucatec and to learn about the linguistic structure of Yucatec. They will run sentence production studies on Yucatec Maya (in the Yucatan) including experiments on accessibility and weigt effects on word order and morphological choices. I want to take this opportunity to publically thank Lis Norcliffe and Tania Nikitina for absolutely invaluable help with the preparation of the grant. Lis hugely influenced the design of our experiments and co-wrote large sections of the grants. Of course, she’s not to be blamed for anything we may screw up . Thanks also go to Carlos Gomez Gallo and Katrina Housel who helped gather the pilot data for the grant during our previous visit to the Yucatan. […]


    […] of data collection, translation, annotation, and analysis, our first longer paper based on our field-based studies of language production in Yucatec Maya is about to appear in […]


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