Neuter is not Common in Dutch: Eye Movements Reveal Asymmetrical Gender Processing

Loerts, H., Wieling, M. & Schmid, M. S., Dec-2013, In : Journal of Psycholinguistic Research. 42, 6, p. 551-570 20 p.

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  • Neuter is not Common in Dutch Eye Movements Reveal Asymmetrical Gender Processing

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Native speakers of languages with transparent gender systems can use gender cues to anticipate upcoming words. To examine whether this also holds true for a non-transparent two-way gender system, i.e. Dutch, eye movements were monitored as participants followed spoken instructions to click on one of four displayed items on a screen (e.g., Klik op rode appel , 'Click on the red apple'). The items contained the target, a colour- and/or gender-matching competitor, and two unrelated distractors. A mixed-effects regression analysis revealed that the presence of a colour-matching and/or gender-matching competitor significantly slowed the process of finding the target. The gender effect, however, was only observed for common nouns, reflecting the fact that neuter gender-marking cannot disambiguate as all Dutch nouns become neuter when used as diminutives. The gender effect for common nouns occurred before noun onset, suggesting that gender information is, at least partially, activated automatically before encountering the noun.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-570
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2013


  • Visual world paradigm, Spoken language comprehension, Grammatical gender, Lexical anticipation, Mixed-effects modelling, SPOKEN-WORD RECOGNITION, FIXED-EFFECT FALLACY, SPEECH-PERCEPTION, TIME-COURSE, LANGUAGE, MODEL, ACQUISITION, ARTICLES, PARADIGM, AGE

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