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J Psycholinguist Res. 2014 Feb;43(1):13-25. doi: 10.1007/s10936-012-9236-0.

Sublexical and lexico-syntactic factors in gender access in Spanish.

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  • 1Departamento de Psicología Cognitiva, Social y Organizacional, Campus de Guajara, Universidad de La Laguna, 38205,  Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, oafonso@ull.es.

Abstract

The influence of sublexical and lexico-syntactic factors during the grammatical gender assignment process in Spanish was studied in two experiments using the gender decision task. In Experiment 1, the regularity of the ending of gender-marked nouns (masculine nouns ended in -o and feminine nouns ended in -a) and of nouns with gender-correlated but unmarked word-endings (e.g., -ad) was manipulated. The results showed that regularity affected reaction times and error rates only in the case of gender-marked nouns, suggesting that the mere statistical distribution of a word-ending across genders is not responsible for the regularity effect. In Experiment 2, gender-marked nouns and gender-unmarked nouns were preceded by a masked prime which could be a definite article (which provides information about the gender of the noun) or a possessive pronoun (which does not contain gender information). The presentation of the definite article led to shorter reaction times and less errors only when the word-ending was different from -o or -a. Taken together, these results indicate that gender assignment in Spanish is carried out through different processes depending on the noun ending: gender decisions for gender-marked nouns are based on the gender-to-ending distribution. Meanwhile, gender decisions for unmarked nouns seem to require the retrieval of the corresponding definite grammatical article, regardless of the statistical distribution of the noun ending across genders.

PMID:
23377903
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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