Word meaning is layered and multifaceted, imbued not just with semantic content (features and referential characteristics), but also with social meaning and cultural orientation. The present study is part of a three-year sociolinguistics research program, comprising four experiments (this being the first), whose broad aim is to study the acquisition of sociolinguistic meanings in language contact situations.
In this talk, we report findings from a picture-naming task, using a combination of pictures: 197 pictures from a normed dataset, Multipic Dataset (Duñabeitia et al., 2018) (obtained with permission) and 47 pictures (the New Zealand Picture Dataset), which we commissioned in order to represent concepts which NZ English (NZE) frequently borrows words from te reo Māori (e.g, kete, hongi, kura). The NZ Picture Dataset includes loanwords from various semantic categories: flora and fauna, kinship terms, physical objects.
Using online survey software, we conducted a picture naming task in which 50 participants (undergraduate psychology students) were shown a set of pictures and asked to name the word they would use to describe each picture. Each participant also filled in a background questionnaire, which was used to construct a Māori orientation index (for each participant). The results from this experiment were used to answer the following three research questions:
1. To what extent are NZE speaking respondents with a higher Māori orientation index more likely to select Māori loanwords when naming pictures depicting concepts that can be lexicalized by a listed Māori word in NZE and how does this compare with differences in naming agreement between the respondents for concepts that cannot be lexicalized by a Māori word in NZE?
2. To what extent is naming agreement lower for Māori concepts rather than for a control group of concepts that do not have a listed Māori loanword alternative?
3. To what extent do we find variation in the answers to RQ1 and RQ2 depending on the semantic field to which the concept belongs (fauna and flora, kinship words etc.)?
In addition to answering the questions above, the findings arising in this work will be used in two ways. First, the NZ Picture Dataset will be made freely available for NZ schools and language researchers (see Haitana et al., 2010 for discussion of need for such materials). Secondly, the findings will inform our next set of experiments, in which we plan to test the passive knowledge of common Māori loanwords of kiwi mainstream, primary-aged children and probe their general associations with these.
Duñabeitia, J.A., Crepaldi, D., Meyer, S.A., New, B., Pliatsika, C., Smolka, E., & Brysbaert,
M. (2018). MultiPic: A standard set of 750 drawings with norms for six European languages. Quarterly Journal for Experimental Psychology, 71(4), 808–816.
Haitana, T., Pitama, S., & Rucklidge, J. J. (2010). Cultural biases in the Peabody picture
vocabulary test-III: testing tamariki in a New Zealand sample. New Zealand Journal of Psychology, 39(3), 24–34.