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Educational Studies and Research


Purepecha has no grammatical gender, whereas Spanish has a binary masculine–feminine system. In this paper we investigate how early sequential Purepecha–Spanish bilinguals assign gender to Purepecha nouns inserted into an otherwise Spanish utterance, using a director-matcher production task and an online forced-choice acceptability judgement task. The results of the production task indicate a strong preference for masculine gender, irrespective of the gender of the noun’s translation equivalent, the so-called “masculine default” option. Participants in the comprehension task were influenced by the orthography of the Purepecha noun in the -a ending condition, leading them to assign feminine gender agreement to nouns that are masculine in Spanish, but preferred the masculine default strategy again in the -i/-u ending condition. The absence of the “analogical criterion” in both tasks contrasts with the results of some previous studies, underlining the need for more comparable data in terms of task type. Our results also highlight how task type can influence the choices speakers make, in this context, in terms of the choice of grammatical gender agreement strategy. Task type should therefore be carefully controlled in future studies.

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