Volume 12, Issue 6
  • ISSN 1879-9264
  • E-ISSN: 1879-9272
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This paper presents an eye-tracking study using the Visual World Paradigm that tests whether participants are able to access gender information on definite articles and deploy it to facilitate lexical retrieval of subsequent nouns. A comparison of heritage speakers of Spanish with control monolingual speakers of Spanish suggests that the heritage speakers’ performance on this task is qualitatively similar to that of the baseline. This suggests that, despite non-target-like performance in offline tasks targeting gender production and comprehension, heritage speakers of Spanish can use gender in a target-like manner in online tasks. In line with proposals put forth by Grüter et al. (2012) and Montrul et al. (2014), a preliminary comparison with previous work on L2 learners (Lew-Williams & Fernald, 2010Grüter et al., 2012Dussias et al., 2013) provides tentative support for the idea that the nature of early language learning is crucial in developing the ability to use grammatical gender to facilitate lexical retrieval (Grüter et al., 2012Montrul et al., 2014).


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Keyword(s): eye-tracking; grammatical gender; heritage languages; Spanish; visual world paradigm
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