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Gender congruency effects in Russian–Spanish and Italian–Spanish bilinguals: The role of language proximity and concreteness of words

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2018

Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center (CIMCYC); Department of Experimental Psychology; University of Granada, Spain
Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center (CIMCYC); Department of Experimental Psychology; University of Granada, Spain
Department of Translation and Interpreting; University of Granada, Spain
Universidad Loyola Andalucía, Department of Psychology, Seville, Spain
Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center (CIMCYC); Department of Experimental Psychology; University of Granada, Spain
Address for correspondence: Daniela Paolieri, Mind, Brain and Behavior Research Center, Department of Experimental Psychology, C/ Professor Clavera s/n, University of Granada18071, Granada,


Previous studies have shown that bilinguals perform a production task faster when the item is gender-congruent across their two languages than when it is not. The current study aimed to explore three factors that might modulate this effect: the similarity of the gender systems, the need to retrieve grammatical gender to perform the task, and the role of a semantic variable (concreteness) in the processing of gender information. In Experiment 1, Russian–Spanish bilinguals showed gender-congruency effects whether they translated concrete nouns in isolation or in noun-phrases. In contrast, the effect was restricted to noun phrases when they translated abstract words. In Experiment 2, Italian–Spanish bilinguals showed the gender-congruency effect regardless of the translation task. However, the effect was larger with concrete nouns in comparison with abstract nouns. These results are discussed in terms of the proximity of bilingual gender systems and the relationship between semantics and gender.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2018 

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This research was supported by grants PSI2013-46033-P, PCIN-2015-165-C02-01, PCIN-2015-132, PSI2016-75250-P and PSI2015-65502 from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness. We express our thanks to three anonymous reviewers who provided extremely detailed and useful critical commentary on a previous version of this paper.


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