Does Early Unit Size Impact the Formation of Linguistic Predictions? Grammatical Gender as a Case Study

Rana Abu-Zhaya*, Inbal Arnon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Making adults learn from larger linguistic units can facilitate learning article–noun agreement. Here we ask whether initial exposure to larger units improves learning by increasing the predictive associations between the article and noun. Using an artificial language learning paradigm, we taught 106 Hebrew-speaking participants novel article–noun associations with either segmented input first or unsegmented input first, and tested their learning of the article–noun association and their ability to use articles to predict nouns. Our results showed that participants exposed to unsegmented input first were more likely to treat the article–noun unit as one word and were more accurate at learning the correct article–noun associations. However, participants in the unsegmented-first condition did not show increased gaze to the target compared to those in the segmented-first condition. We discuss how these findings inform our understanding of the challenges that adults face when learning a second language.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalLanguage Learning
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Language Learning published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Language Learning Research Club, University of Michigan.

Keywords

  • eye tracking
  • grammatical gender
  • linguistic predictions
  • order of exposure

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