A research group led by Professor Masatoshi Koizumi of the Graduate School of Tohoku University conducted research on the brain processing processes of ethnic minority languages. It is the complexity of grammatical processing, and it was demonstrated for the first time in the world that the two are different.

 When speaking a language, it is necessary to determine the word order.In languages ​​that allow multiple word orders, native speakers tend to prefer the word order in which the subject precedes the object (SO word order) to the word order in which the object precedes the subject (OS word order). The relationship between decisions and the order of human thought was unclear.

 Kaqchikel (one of the Mayan languages) is an endangered language spoken in central Guatemala, Central America.The word order of sentences is relatively free (VOS, SVO, VSO, OVS, etc.), and the VOS word order is the most grammatically simple basic word order.The research group has measured the brain processing processes during speaking and listening by native speakers of Kaqchikel, and conducted research from the perspectives of linguistics, psychology, and brain science.

 In experiments conducted by the research group, when comprehending and producing Kaqchikel, an OS language, VOS has a lower processing load on brain activity than other word orders (easily understood), depending on the complexity of syntactic processing. found.However, the frequency of production (what word order is used to what extent) was highest in SVO, reflecting the order of thought (agent, action, object).In other words, it was demonstrated for the first time in the world that the main factor that determines the processing load (syntactic complexity) and the main factor that determines the production frequency (order of thought) are different.

 In addition to deepening our understanding of languages ​​and humanity and raising interest in endangered languages, this research will also spread awareness of the importance of maintaining and promoting linguistic and cultural diversity, and will contribute to achieving Goal 10 of the SDGs, which aims to reduce inequalities. It is expected that it will contribute to "elimination".

reference:[Tohoku University] Elucidation of the brain processing process of minority languages! - Demonstrating that easy-to-understand word order and easy-to-speak word order are not necessarily the same - (PDF)

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