Gender Change in Norwegian Dialects: Comprehension is affected before Production
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionLinguistics Vanguard. 2016, 2 (1), 69-83. 10.1515/lingvan-2016-0026
This article investigates language variation and change in the grammatical gender system of Norwegian, where feminine gender agreement is in the process of disappearing in some Northern Norwegian dialects. Speakers of the Tromsø (N=46) and Sortland (N=54) dialects participated in a Visual Word experiment. The task examined whether they used indefinite articles (en, ei, et) predictively to identify nouns during spoken-word recognition, and whether they produced feminine articles in an elicited production task. Results show that all speakers used the neuter indefinite article et as a predictive cue, but no speakers used the feminine ei predictively, regardless of whether they produced it or not. The masculine article en was used predictively only by the speakers who did not produce feminine gender forms. We hypothesize that in dialects where the feminine gender is disappearing, this change in the gender system affects comprehension first, even before speakers stop producing the feminine indefinite article.
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