[The effects of linear distance and working memory on the processing of gender agreement in Spanish, Part III. Gender and number]
This study investigates the effects of linear distance and working memory on native and advanced L2 Spanish speakers’ on-line sensitivity to violations of grammatical gender. Using eye-tracking, participants were tested on agreement violations on predicative adjectives located one, four, and seven words away from a controller noun. The results revealed that linear distance influenced both groups’ sensitivity to gender anomalies, albeit at different points on the linear distance continuum. Furthermore, each group’s sensitivity to gender violations emerged at different points in the eye-movement record. The reading span analysis revealed that the advanced learners’ sensitivity to gender errors during first-pass reading was moderated by individual differences in working memory. The results are discussed in light of the Shallow Structure Hypothesis (Clahsen & Felser, 2006b).