The role of morphology in grammatical gender assignment

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The aim of this study was to investigate native speakers’ ability to predict gender on the basis solely of morphological information carried by the noun suffix by testing the speakers’ assignment of gender to novel nouns. Results indicated that native speakers use morphology, specifically the information carried by the noun suffix to predict gender in the absence of semantic information in the noun as well as in the absence of any phrasal information that would help them to determine gender based on agreement. This result confirms both Ralli’s (2002; 2003) and Anastasiadi-Symeonidi & Cheila-Markopoulou’s (2003) claim that morphology plays an important role in the assignment of gender to Greek nouns. It is also compatible with findings of earlier psycholinguistic research on gender marking (Tucker, Lambert, & Rigault, 1977; Mills, 1986), suggesting that formal assignment rules determine gender marking to a great extend and are part of the native speakers’ linguistic competence.


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