Journal article

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


  • 2013
Published in:
  • Bilingualism: Language and Cognition. - 2013, vol. 16, no. 4, p. 792-807
English 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.
Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines
Département de Psychologie
  • English
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