December 20, 2020
Maori words sound right on ear
A University of Canterbury study has found New Zealanders may know more te reo Māori than they realise.
Professor Jen Hay from the university’s New Zealand Institute of Language says even if they don’t speak the language, people in Aotearoa are exposed to te reo Māori on a regular basis, including in songs, place names, and speeches at meetings and events.
The non-Māori speakers the three-year study were able to accurately distinguish real words from highly Māori-like non-words, and they had very good knowledge of the patterns of sounds in the language.
Non-Māori speaking adults in Aotearoa have implicit memories of over 1500 te reo Māori words, despite only knowing the meaning of about 70 to 80 on average.
A follow-up study by co-author Professor Jeanette King will look at whether this proto-lexicon can be used to help people fast track their language learning.
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