EUROSLA Yearbook: Volume 9 (2009)
  • ISSN 1568-1491
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9749
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The present study examined the processing of grammatical gender in second language (L2) French as a function of language background (Experiment 1) and as a function of overt phonetic properties of agreement (Experiment 2) by examining Event Related Potential (ERP) responses to gender discord in L2 French. In Experiment 1 we explored the role of the presence/absence of abstract grammatical gender in the L1 (gendered German, ungendered English): we compared German and English learners of French when processing post-nominal plural (no gender cues on determiner) attributive adjectives that either agreed in gender with the noun or presented a gender violation. We found grammaticalized responses (P600) by native and L1 English learners, but no response by German L1, a result we attribute to the possible influence of plurality, which is gender neutralized in German DP concord. In Experiment 2, we examined the role of overt phonetic cues to noun-adjective gender agreement in French, for both native speakers and Spanish L2 learners of French, finding that both natives and L2 learners showed a more robust P600 in the presence of phonetic cues. These data, in conjunction with those of other ERP studies can best be accounted for by a model that allows for native language influence, that is not, however constrained by age of acquisition, and that must also allow for clear cues in the input to influence acquisition and/or processing.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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