a1 University of Arizona
Adult Spanish speakers generally know which form a determiner preceding a noun should have even if the noun is not in their lexicon, because Spanish demonstrates high predictability between determiner form and noun form (la noun-a and el noun-o). We asked whether young children learning Spanish are similarly sensitive to the correlation of determiner and noun forms, or whether they initially learn determiner–noun pairings one-by-one. Spanish–English bilingual children and adults repeated Spanish words and non-words preceded by gender congruous and incongruous determiners. If children learn determiner–noun pairings one-by-one, they should show a gender congruity effect only for words. In contrast with this prediction, both children and adults demonstrated congruity effects for words and non-words, indicating sensitivity to correlated morphophonological forms. Furthermore, both age groups showed more facility in producing phrases with nouns ending in -a, which are more frequent and predictable from the preceding determiner.
(Received April 22 2010)
(Revised January 09 2011)
(Accepted June 24 2011)
(Online publication December 19 2011)
[*] This research was supported by NIH R01 HD042170 to LouAnn Gerken.