Research Paper

Agreement and markedness in the ascription of gender to novel animate nouns by children acquiring Portuguese

Abstract

This paper focuses on the role of agreement in the ascription of gender to animate nouns by children acquiring Portuguese. An elicited production task was used in which children were requested to refer to novel objects named by pseudo masculine/feminine nouns. It aimed at verifying the extent to which an agreeing element (the determiner), the noun-ending or a correlation between the gender of the determiner and the noun-ending would guide the ascription of a pseudo-noun to a masculine/feminine gender class. This study extends an earlier one, in which 2-4 year olds acquiring Brazilian Portuguese were shown to rely more on agreement than on correlational patterns, when ascribing gender to pseudo inanimate nouns (Corrêa & Name, 2003). 80 2-4 year olds acquiring Brazilian and European Portuguese were tested. The results suggest that reliance on agreement prevails, though children are sensitive to correlational patterns and the production of feminine DPs (determiner phrases) is particularly hard. It is argued that children rely on an algorithmic procedure for gender identification and that gender markedness in nouns with an optional gender feature increases the demands of DP production.

How to Cite

Corrêa, L. & Augusto, M. & Castro, A., (2011) “Agreement and markedness in the ascription of gender to novel animate nouns by children acquiring Portuguese”, Journal of Portuguese Linguistics 10(1), p.121-142. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/jpl.103

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Letícia M. Sicuro Corrêa (Pontifícia Universidade Católica, do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio), Laboratório de Psicolingüística e Aquisição da Linguagem, (LAPAL), Departamento de Letras, Rua Marquês de S. Vicente, 225, sala K-121 Gávea – Rio de Janeiro, CEP 22453-900, Brazil)
Marina R. A. Augusto (Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Rua São Francisco, Xavier, 524 – 11 andar, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, CEP 20550-900, Brazil & Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) Laboratório de Psicolingüística e Aquisição da Linguagem (LAPAL))
Ana Castro (Escola Superior de Saúde do Instituto Politécnico de Setúbal (ESS-IPS) & Centro de Linguística da Universidade Nova de Lisboa (CLUNL), Avenida de Berna 26-C, 1069-061 Lisboa, Portugal)

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