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M.A. Theses in Linguistics
at the University of North Dakota
Jordan, Larissa M. 2014
Verbal fluency: Norms for the Lakota population in semantic and phonemic fluency tasks
The Lakota language in western South Dakota is spoken by a people group with a
rich cultural and religious heritage. The Lakota language, still spoken by elderly Lakota
people, is slowly vanishing as the majority of people in younger generations are no
longer learning Lakota and with it the semantic knowledge of how Lakota speakers view
the world. This study was completed to gather semantic information about the animals
that bilingual Lakota English speakers name in English and in Lakota.
An additional objective of this study was to develop normative data for the Lakota
people on phonemic (letter P) and semantic (animal) verbal fluency tasks in Lakota and
in English. Verbal fluency tasks are commonly used in the medical field as a way to
evaluate and treat neurological impairments such as stroke or brain injury. Without
having this normative data, medical professionals are forced to compare the number of
responses by the Lakota people to monolingual English speakers.
Ninety-six participants, fifty-three monolingual English and forty-three bilingual
Lakota English speakers, were asked to complete phonemic and semantic verbal fluency
tasks in English and also in Lakota for Lakota English speakers. Results revealed Lakota
speakers name more words in English than in Lakota on both tasks, and they do not name
as many English P words during phonemic tasks as monolingual English speakers do.
Four common animals, dog, cat, horse, and cow, were named in the top ten most
frequently occurring animals by all three groups, but differences were seen among the
groups as well.