Hawaii has the best palm trees!NFLRC NetWork #7

ACQUISITION OF GRAMMATICAL GENDER IN ITALIAN
AS A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Katrina Oliphant
University of Hawai`i

Please cite as...
© 1997 Second Language Teaching & Curriculum Center


This study investigated the sensitivity to gender cues exhibited by L2 learners of Italian. The participants were 64 students in first- and second-year Italian classes at the university level. Three tests were given to ascertain the students' ability to assign gender based on morphophonological, syntactic, and semantic cues. Results showed that the students were sensitive to cues in the word-final phonemes that reliably indicate gender and implicational scaling demonstrated a clear order of difficulty among these endings. The students exhibited a low degree of awareness of the gender associations of certain derivational suffixes. When dealing with more than one cue, the students had no difficulty assigning gender when the cues were in accord, while coping with conflicting cues was more problematic. Nonetheless, in the majority of the cases, the students were able to use syntactic cues to override contradictory cues in the noun endings. While as a group, the students were reliant on a syntactic strategy, the implication scaling performed on the results revealed the presence of subgroups following different strategies, i.e., morphophonological or semantic. Clear scales of difficulty among the various combinations of cue types also emerged.

click here to access Acquisition of grammatical gender in Italian as a foreign language by Katrina Oliphant

This paper is in Acrobat PDF format. (If you do not already have an Acrobat PDF reader on your computer, you may download one for free from the Adobe website here.)


National Foreign Language Resource Center Homepage

Language