[PS-3.5] An ERP Study on the Mechanism and Time Course of Gender and Number Processing in Dutch

Popov, S. 1 , Salcic, A. 2 & Bastiaanse, R. 1, 3

1 International Doctorate for Experimental Approaches to Brain and Language (IDEALAB), Universities of Groningen (NL), Trento (IT), Newcastle (UK), Potsdam (DE), & Macquarie University Sydney (AU)
2 European Master in Clinical Linguistics (EMCL), Universities of Groningen (NL), Potsdam (DE), & University of Eastern Finland (FI)
3 University of Groningen

Gender in Dutch is a lexical feature that cannot be decoded from the phonological word form. In contrast, number is morphologically realized in the form of a suffix. Thus, number processing takes place via morphological decoding, whereas gender is retrieved from the lemma. Gender and number are accessed at different moments in time during real time comprehension in spoken language. Only a portion of a spoken word is enough for a listener to recognize the word and access its semantic and syntactic features, gender included. For number, a word has to be heard in its entirety in order to perceive and decode the number suffix.

This ERPs study looks into gender and number processing during listening and reading. The stimuli are the same for both paradigms, and they consist of grammatical and ungrammatical sentences with either a number (article-noun) or gender (adjective-noun) violation. The initial reading data from 13 participants indicate a difference in P600 between gender and number, with number causing a more broadly distributed effect, suggesting different processing mechanisms for number and gender. The data will be complemented with listening data that is currently being collected.