01/07/2008 Linguistics Psychology Sociology
DOI: 10.1177/0267658308090185 SemanticScholar ID: 53076482 MAG: 2167234467

Age and input in the acquisition of grammatical gender in Dutch

Publication Summary

This article investigates the effect of age of first exposure and the quantity and quality of input to which non-native acquirers (L2ers) are exposed in their acquisition of grammatical gender in Dutch. Data from 103 English-speaking children, preteens and adults were analysed for gender agreement on definite determiners. It was observed that although most learners regularly overgeneralized the common gender definite determiner de to neuter nouns, there also existed child and adult L2ers who consistently produced the target neuter determiner het with these nouns (contra Carroll, 1989; Hawkins and Franceschina, 2004; Franceschina, 2005). Participants in all three groups produced het equally frequently with non-derived nouns as with diminutives, one of the few reliable morphophonological cues for neuter gender (compare Carroll, 1999). The present findings are evaluated in light of previous research (Hulk and Cornips, 2006a) suggesting that the quality of input to which L2ers are exposed may significantly affect their ability to proceed beyond the aforementioned stage of overgeneralization. Evidence for frequency effects and the observation that targetlike performance correlated with length of exposure suggests that quantity of input is a significant factor in the acquisition of Dutch gender. This is to be expected if the acquisition of gender is for a large part word-learning (Carroll, 1989; Montrul and Potowski, 2007)

CAER Authors

Avatar Image for Sharon Unsworth

Dr. Sharon Unsworth

Radboud University - Associate Professor in the Department of Language and Communication and the Department of Modern Languages

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