Real-time processing of gender-marked articles by native and non-native Spanish speakers
AbstractThree experiments using online processing measures explored whether native and non-native Spanish-speaking adults use gender-marked articles to identify referents of target nouns more rapidly, as shown previously with 3-year-old children learning Spanish as L1 (Lew-Williams & Fernald, 2007). In Experiment 1, participants viewed familiar objects with names of either the same or different grammatical gender while listening to Spanish sentences referring to one object. L1 adults, like L1 children, oriented to the target more rapidly on different-gender trials, when the article was informative about noun identity; however, L2 adults did not. Experiments 2 and 3 controlled for frequency of exposure to article-noun pairs by using novel nouns. L2 adults could not exploit gender information when different article-noun pairs were used in teaching and testing. Experience-related factors may influence how L1 adults and children and L2 adults—who learned Spanish at different ages and in different settings—use grammatical gender in realtime processing.