Misrepresentation of Dutch neuter gender in older bilingual children?

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Previous research revealed that monolingual children between 11- and 13-yearold show a target-like production with respect to gender assignment of definite determiners whereas this is not the case for bilingual children who massively overgeneralize <i>de</i>. In order to further investigate this overgeneralization, we designed an experimental decision task, “tapping the knowledge” of both monolingual and bilingual children. Our results show that bilinguals fail to represent abstract gender and that <i>de </i>and <i>het </i>are in free variation. The difference between the production and comprehension data could suggest that bilinguals have some awareness of <i>de </i>and <i>het </i>being gender markers. In that case, the overgeneralization in the production data is possibly not a grammatical phenomenon, but more likely a speech production strategy.


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