An A-Wh of Māori Grammar and Usage

Project Duration from:: 
2022 to 2027

A number of pioneering studies that focused on semantic-based descriptions of the English language have made a profound impact on its teaching and learning for more useful and meaningful pedagogic and communicative purposes in second language education. This has led to the production of English grammar and usage books that were published in the 1980s. However, this has not been the case with the Māori language. I believe there is a critical need for a similar book to meet the demands of a growing population who want to teach and learn te reo in our changing society.

This project aims to investigate the ways in which te reo has been described in educational materials (i.e. grammar books and textbooks) designed for use by Māori language teachers and learners within and beyond a classroom setting. The crux of this project aims to explore the feasibility of a grammar and usage reference book of te reo (GuR) that seeks to provide semantically-based descriptions of particular structures in the Māori language. As a preliminary study, it will explore select structures on a small scale with teachers and users of te reo in mind. Here, I refer to the term ‘user’ in a very generic way that transforms the learner of te reo to the more pro-active user of te reo as one who already possess a skill in speaking, writing, listening, and reading no matter how weak or strong that skill might be. It is still a skill. As an umbrella term, it can account for the inclusivity of all four language skills and not just referring to one only as the expression ‘learner of te reo’ seems to express in an umbiguous way. In other words, which skill is being referred to here? Under the term 'user', it is all four. The GuR attempts to offer less technical descriptions and explanations of those structures as far as possible for a non-specialist audience and for pedagogical purposes. In part, the GuR will focus on the authenticity of te reo usage as governed by its grammatical encodings and the lore of tikanga Māori (i.e. based on first language perspectives). Semantic-focused theory will be the logical starting point and play the primary role for describing te reo with linguistic-focused theory taking on a very secondary and facilitating role. The preliminary study will be a forerunner to a larger scale work called an A-Wh pedagogic and usage grammar reference of te reo, pending.

The implications for teachers of te reo may include, for example, the design of best models for creating course syllabuses, lesson content, and producing teaching and learning materials that may have more useful and meaningful pedagogical and practical outcomes in and beyond the language learning classroom for both teacher and user. I advocate that good language description must precede good language teaching, and that successful teaching and learning of te reo begins with rethinking the types of theories we use to describe it and the types of approaches we use to teach it. This project will necessarily involve a collegial effort of applied linguists, general linguists, Māori language teachers, and/ or other parties who may have an invested interest in this project. Accessibility to funding and Māori-based corpora will be pertinent to the success of this work, as well.



Sub-category: Denial-Correction

In this relation, one member is a denial involving a negated word or expression; the other is a contrary assertion containing a corrective substitute for the negated word or expression.

Example of Denial-Correction as encoded in the - Ehara...i - structure.

  • Ehara a Hikurangi i te maunga nekeneke (Denial), he maunga tū tonu (Correction).
  • Hikurangi is not a shifting mountain (Denial), it's an immovable mountain (Correction).
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