pedagogical enquiry

ROOD DAVID S rood at spot.Colorado.EDU
Tue Oct 3 20:10:04 UTC 2000

Dear all,
	Sorry to be slow to respond; it was a busy weekend and is just now
settling down.
	The question of what to teach when is always worth careful
consideration in any language course.  When we prepared our Lakhota
textbooks, we were following a lot of audio-lingual teaching principles,
which in turn were based on structural linguistics and behaviorist
psychology.  That means introduce the subject matter first and
memorize examples of it, then give the explanations, and it also
means introduce everything in little steps, building constantly
on what went before.  In the phonetics, then, for example, the dialogues
never introduce sounds that haven't been taught yet (unless they
are the target of the current lesson) (which makes for some awkward
dialogue, of course, in the first 4-5 lessons), and there is a principle
that says "teach the hard stuff first, so students get used to it and can
practice it longer -- the easy stuff will be easy whenever you introduce
it."  At the same time, there is a principle that says "start with what
they know and build on it" -- and those two principles can be
contradictory in specific instances.
	As for pronouns, we reasoned as follows: Speakers of English
expect a difference between "I" and "me" (et al.) to correlate with the
difference between subject and object.  They will therefore find the
stative verb paradigms quite counter-intuitive if they've learned active
and/or transitive ones first.  So let's start with the statives, giving
the impression that that's the "normal" use of the patient affixes.  It
will be easier to extend the stative subject to the transitive object than
the other way around (I'm no longer quite sure why that's true, but it
	I prefer to teach the uN(k) pronoun as meaning "you (sg) and I",
avoiding both of the technical terms (dual and inclusive) that have been
discussed in some of these notes.  Then you can add "pi" to that for more
people, just as you do with the other persons.  Assuming that active
intransitives are introduced next, on the theory that we need to get
one-argument structures down before we go to two-argument ones (unless one
argument is 3rd sg), the transitive paradigms require just 3 new facts:
wic^ha for plural 3rd, c^hi for I-you, and the fact that uNk requires pi
in all cases where it's the object.
	From a formal point of view, I agree with the idea that uN(k) is
in some sense the "singular" of an uN(k)/uN(k)...pi pair, but the symmetry
isn't really improved that way since there is no -pi form for wa/ma.  I've
tried a lot of layouts and keep coming back to a 3-column one for
subjects, two for objects, with "c^hi" relegated to a footnote:
		subjects			objects
	sg	du	pl
	wa/ma	uN(k)	uN(k)...pi		ma	uN(k)...pi
	ya/ni		ya/ni...pi		ni	ni...pi
	zero		zero...pi		zero	wic^ha


David S. Rood
Dept. of Linguistics
Univ. of Colorado
Campus Box 295
Boulder, CO 80309-0295
rood at

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