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Gender conflict resolution in Spanish–Basque mixed DPs*

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This study analyzes gender assignment in Spanish–Basque mixed nominal constructions with nouns in Basque (a language that lacks gender) and determiners in Spanish (a language that marks gender) by using a multi-task approach: (i) naturalistic data, (ii) an elicitation task, and (iii) an auditory judgment task. Naturalistic data suggest cross-language effects under which a morphological marker of Basque (-a determiner) is interpreted as a morphophonological expression of gender marking in Spanish. A preference for feminine determiners was observed in the judgment task, which differs from the masculine default trend observed in Spanish–English bilinguals (Jake, Myers-Scotton & Gross, 2002). Our results point to feminine gender as default in Spanish–Basque mixed DPs, indicating that the resources that bilinguals use for gender assignment can be different from those of monolinguals. We argue that this is an outcome of interacting processes which take place at the interfaces (lexicon, phonology, morphosyntax) of both languages, resulting in cross-language effects.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: M. Carmen Parafita Couto, Leiden University Center for Linguistics (LUCL), Witte Singel-complex, van Wijkplaats 3, Room number 0.05b, Leiden University, 2311 BX Leiden, The Netherlands


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This work was funded in part by a British Academy Small Research Grant. The work presented in this paper was part of the programme of the ESRC Centre for Research on Bilingualism in Theory and Practice at Bangor University. This research was also partially supported by Basque Government (IT-676-13), University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU (UFI11/06), Spanish Ministry of Education and Science (BRAINGLOT CSD2007-00012), Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (FFI2012-37884-C03-02) and Agence Nationale de la Recherche. Projet ACOBA. Programme Blanc. Édition 2010. We would also like to thank Yolanda Acedo, Ricardo Etxepare, Maria-José Ezeizabarrena, Marianne Gullberg, Iggy Roca, Jasone Salaberria, Mikel Santesteban, Hans Stadthagen-González, Jorge Valdés Kroff and Adam Zawiszewski, as well as three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments and feedback. We are very grateful to the participants for generously helping us in this research.



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