How do native Dutch speakers acquire German grammatical gender? Extending the Incidental L2 Learning Paradigm

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This study had one general aim: extending the L2 learning paradigm developped by Brandt, Schriefers and Lemhöfer (2021). This was done in three ways. First, the target population changed from German (L1) to Dutch (L1) speakers, to see if the paradigm could be employed in a different population. Second, previous research indicated that inexperienced participants learned the target grammatical gender structure merely by being exposed to the experiment’s stimuli (Brandt, Schriefers & Lemhöfer, submitted). Extending this finding, an analysis of learning over time was performed rather than input-driven learning only. Last, there was an extra category of words that was formally analysed. In previous research, only the incompatible nouns – nouns that deviated from the expected grammatical gender – were analysed (Brandt, Schriefers & Lemhöfer, 2021, submitted), while in the current study the compatible nouns – nouns that conformed to the expected grammatical gender – were analysed equally. The methods were otherwise as close as possible to Brandt, Schriefers and Lemhöfer (2021) for ease of comparison. Most findings were replicated, showing that Dutch (L1) speakers indeed implicitly learn German articles when input was provided. The timebased analysis showed that inexperienced Dutch (L1) participants learned by merely being exposed to the stimuli, and did so nonlinearly. There were some deviating findings from the previous studies, which implied that there were qualitative differences in experience between the two sampled populations. This probably related to the more classroom-based experience of Dutch (L1) speakers compared to the more naturalistic experience of German (L1) participants. Keywords: language transfer, dialogue game, grammatical gender, incidental article learning.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen