University of Illinois at Chicago
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Gender Agreement in a Language Contact Situation

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posted on 2023-03-24, 02:38 authored by L Sánchez, Jose CamachoJose Camacho, E Mayer, CR Alzza
Gender agreement between determiners and nouns, and gender agreement between third-person clitics and their referents, are notoriously difficult to acquire by bilingual speakers who lack them in their first language, or in one of their first languages. We present a study that explores the differences between gender agreement between a determiner and a noun and gender agreement between clitics and antecedents or doubled DPs among Shipibo-Spanish speakers. The oral production data that were elicited from 17 adult Shipibo-Spanish bilinguals by using a picture-based narration task show a notable difference in the agreement patterns between nouns and determiners, and between clitics and their antecedents/doubled DPs. Similar patterns are found among five Spanish-Shipibo bilinguals who were living in the same contact situation. While the participants consistently marked strong gender agreement within the DPs, a lack of gender specification was found in the agreement between clitics and antecedents or doubled DPs in the clitic-doubling and dislocated structures. These results are not unexpected as they mirror the results from previous work, where the clitic gender does not systematically match the antecedent gender, especially with feminine antecedents or doubled DPs. Furthermore, this study confirms previous evidence that the gender-specific clitics, lo/la, have been replaced by the invariable clitic, le, in contexts where agreement with a doubled DP or an antecedent is expected. In contrast, there is evidence of agreement between determiners and nouns in this group of bilinguals. These facts allow us to conclude that, although gender is present in Shipibo-Spanish bilingual speakers’ grammar, it is largely absent and is not operative in Shipibo-Spanish speakers’ clitic agreement in oral production.



Sánchez, L., Camacho, J., Mayer, E.Alzza, C. R. (2022). Gender Agreement in a Language Contact Situation. Languages, 7(2), 81-.




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