The acquisition of gender agreement marking in Polish

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This study investigates the acquisition of gender agreement marking in Polish noun phrases. It thus sheds light on the general acquisition of noun gender in Polish which, in most cases, can be predicted by the <i>auslaut</i> of the noun. Whether a child knows the gender of a given noun is indicated by his/her ability to produce gender marked attributive adjectives. To test this ability we elicited attributive adjectives in a group of 34 Polish-German children from age 2;11 to 6;5 with Polish as L1. We tested contexts with typically and atypically marked nouns, as well as with nonce words. With respect to correct markings, error rates and error types, we checked whether the children relied on the morphophonological clues of a given noun and/or whether they use a default strategy. Furthermore, we investigated the development of gender agreement marking. Our results show that (1) even at age six the development of gender agreement/marking is not yet completed, (2) the children use morphophonological as well as semantic clues to identify the gender of a given noun, and (3) the children over-apply feminine and masculine markings.


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