His father’s daughter and her mother’s son: Gender attraction errors in child English Lucia Pozzan1,2, Dorota Ramlogan3, and Virginia Valian1,3 1CUNY INTRODUCTION • Adult L2 learners of English have produce gender agreement errors on possessive pronouns, agreeing with the possessor rather than the possessee (Antón-Méndez (2010): Bob1 sent a present to his1 sister *Bob1 sent a present to her1 sister RESEARCH QUESTIONS 1. Are gender agreement errors on pronouns a learner phenomenon do children learning English as their L1 produce gender agreement errors? 2. Do errors occur equally in match and mismatch conditions? 3. Do errors occur equally with masculine and feminine nouns? 4. Are errors due to non-target (Romance-like) grammars or are they speech errors? Graduate Center, 2University of Pennsylvania, 3Hunter College – CUNY RESULTS MATERIALS & METHODS Gender Errors: • Participants: • 14 Monolingual Englishlearning children • Mean age: 4;4 Match vs. Mismatch • Task: Elicited Production • Materials: 12 prompts • Match Condition (4 prompts): Possessor – Possessee 1. • Mismatch Condition (4 prompts): Possessor – Possessee 2. 3. •Mismatch Condition (4 prompts): Possessor – Possessee 4. Monolingual English-speaking children produce often incorrectly mark the gender of a possessive pronoun. • Gender errors are a learner phenomenon, rather than an L1-transfer error. Gender errors are significantly more frequent when the possessor and the possessee mismatch in gender attraction error. Gender errors occur to a similar extent in the two mismatch conditions: • Masculine gender is not used as default Initial evidence for speech error: • Children self-corrected an incorrect response: 20% self-corrections after an incorrect response, 0% after a correct response. • Same error has been documented in adult native speakers (5-6%) (Slevc et al. 2007) RESEARCH POSTER PRESENTATION DESIGN © 2011 www.PosterPresentations.com Female vs. Masculine CONCLUSIONS & FURTHER QUESTIONS • Gender errors on possessive pronouns are a learner phenomenon. • Incorrect grammars or speech errors? • If these errors are due to incorrect grammatical hypotheses, we expect them to surface in comprehension tasks. • Native adult input is not ambiguous, but possessive pronouns are low in token and type frequency, semantic scope and perceptual salience (Collins et al., 2009) • If these are speech errors, at what point of the production process do they occur? References Antón-Méndez, I. (2010). Whose? L2-English speakers’ possessive pronoun gender errors. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 1-14. Collins, L., Trofimovich, P., White, J., Cardoso, W., & Horst, M. (2009). Some Input on the Easy/Difficult Grammar Question: An Empirical Study. Modern Language Journal, 93(3), 336-353. Slevc, L. R., Wardlow, L., & Ferreira, V. S. (2007). Pronoun Production: World or Word Knowledge? MIT Working papers in linguistics, (53), 191203.