Gender inferences:grammatical features and their impact on the representation of gender in bilinguals

Sato, Sayaka and Gygax, Pascal M. and Gabriel, Ute (2013) Gender inferences:grammatical features and their impact on the representation of gender in bilinguals. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 16 (4). pp. 792-807. ISSN 1366-7289

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We investigated the effects of grammatical and stereotypical gender information on the comprehension of human referent role nouns among bilinguals of a grammatical (French) and a natural gender language (English). In a sentence evaluation paradigm, participants judged the acceptability of a gender-specific sentence referring to either a group of women or men following a sentence containing the plural form of a role noun female (e.g., social workers), male (e.g., surgeons) or neutral (e.g., musicians) in stereotypicality. L1 French and L1 English bilinguals were tested both in French and English. The results showed that bilinguals construct mental representations of gender associated with the language of the task they are engaged in, shifting representations as they switch languages. Specifically, in French, representations were male-dominant (i.e., induced by the masculine form), whereas in English, they were stereotype-based. Furthermore, the results showed that the extent to which representations shifted was modulated by participants’ proficiency in their L2, with highly proficient L2 participants resembling native speakers of the L2 and less proficient L2 participants being influenced more by their native language.

Item Type:
Journal Article
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Bilingualism: Language and Cognition
Additional Information: The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Bilingualism, 16 (4), pp 792-807 2013, © 2013 Cambridge University Press.
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31 Jan 2017 14:22
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 02:49