Volume 8, Issue 4
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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For native speakers, congruent gender marking on determiners and adjectives facilitates recognition of subsequent nouns, while incongruent marking inhibits recognition (e.g., Bates et al., 1996 ). However, there is conflicting evidence regarding whether second language learners demonstrate this effect. We investigated this issue in Swahili. Native speakers and English-speaking L2 learners of Swahili in their 3rd-5th semester completed two word repetition tasks, one examining gender and one number. Participants heard verb-noun phrases in Swahili with verbal marking that was congruent, incongruent or neutral with respect to gender or number. The time to repeat each noun was recorded. Both language groups appeared sensitive to number marking; however, only native speakers appeared sensitive to gender marking. The findings suggest the lack of a feature in the L1 may impede online processing in the L2, while the presence of a feature may mean that native-like processing is possible, even at early levels of proficiency.


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Keyword(s): gender; number; Swahili
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