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Grammatical gender selection and the representation of morphemes: The production of Dutch diminutives


Schiller,  Niels O.
Language Production Group Levelt, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Utterance Encoding, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, Leiden;
Maastricht University, Maastricht;

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Schiller, N. O., & Caramazza, A. (2006). Grammatical gender selection and the representation of morphemes: The production of Dutch diminutives. Language and Cognitive Processes, 21, 945-973. doi:10.1080/01690960600824344.

In this study, we investigated grammatical feature selection during noun phrase production in Dutch. More specifically, we studied the conditions under which different grammatical genders select either the same or different determiners. Pictures of simple objects paired with a gender-congruent or a gender-incongruent distractor word were presented. Participants named the pictures using a noun phrase with the appropriate gender-marked determiner. Auditory (Experiment 1) or visual cues (Experiment 2) indicated whether the noun was to be produced in its standard or diminutive form. Results revealed a cost in naming latencies when target and distractor take different determiner forms independent of whether or not they have the same gender. This replicates earlier results showing that congruency effects are due to competition during the selection of determiner forms rather than gender features. The overall pattern of results supports the view that grammatical feature selection is an <B>automatic</B> consequence of lexical node selection and therefore not subject to interference from incongruent grammatical features. Selection of the correct determiner form, however, is a competitive process, implying that lexical node and grammatical feature selection operate with distinct principles.