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Academic Paper

Title: Gender inferences: Grammatical features and their impact on the representation of gender in bilinguals
Author: Sayaka Sato
Institution: Université de Fribourg
Author: Pascal Gygax
Institution: Université de Fribourg
Author: Ute Gabriel
Institution: Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Linguistic Field: Psycholinguistics; Sociolinguistics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: 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 or 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.


This article appears IN Bilingualism: Language and Cognition Vol. 16, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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