The role of morpho-phonological factors in subject-predicate gender agreement in Hebrew

Maya Dank, Avital Deutsch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

The present study investigated the role of overt phonological realisation of morphological marking on the implementation of subject-predicate agreement in language production. This study was conducted in Hebrew, and focused on subject-predicate gender agreement for inanimate nouns. In Hebrew, singular masculine forms are usually morphologically unmarked, whereas singular feminine forms are morphologically marked. Although the system is generally consistent, it includes examples of feminine forms which are not marked with feminine suffixes, i.e., unmarked feminine forms. Likewise, there are particular suffixes that usually denote masculine or feminine plurals. However, there are examples of masculine plurals which are inflected irregularly, with a feminine suffix. We took advantage of these characteristics of Hebrew to manipulate morphological factors in the process of agreement production. Using a sentence-completion task for complex noun phrases, we tested the effect of the absence of overt gender marking (Exp. 1) and misleading gender marking (Exp. 2) of the local noun on the frequency of agreement errors. The results revealed that whereas the absence of overt gender marking did not affect the frequency of agreement errors, overt misleading gender marking did affect it. The results are discussed in relation to the distinction between inflectional and derivational structures and their relevance to the process of computing agreement in the Marking and Morphing model (Eberhard, Cutting, & Bock, 2005).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1380-1410
Number of pages31
JournalLanguage and Cognitive Processes
Volume25
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Correspondence should be addressed to Avital Deutsch, The School of Education, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem 91905, Israel. E-mail: [email protected] This research was supported by a grant from the Israeli Science Foundation (#0323157) to Avital Deutsch.

Keywords

  • Gender agreement
  • Hebrew
  • Language production
  • Morpho-phonology

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