Anders, of toch niet?
Het Nederlandse pronominale genus door de bril van Duitse NVT-leerders
Both in Dutch and to a lesser extent in German, pronouns can agree with a noun’s lexical gender or be chosen on semantic grounds. It is well-known that for non-human antecedents, Dutch seems to be shifting towards a more semantic system, via a process labelled ‘hersemantisering’, in which gender marking on the pronoun increasingly depends on the degree of individuation of the antecedent. This article presents a psycholinguistic investigation on how German learners of Dutch as a foreign language (NVT), who distinguish between three nominal genders in their native language, handle the Dutch gender system, which has largely lost its three-way nominal gender, and in which resemanticisation has progressed significantly. More specifically, a speeded grammaticality judgement task (GJ) was used in conjunction with a sentence completion task to examine the German NVT-learners’ perception as well as the production of pronominal gender in the L2 (in this case Dutch). It was found that German learners of Dutch judge more combinations of pronouns and their antecedents to be grammatical than they actually use. However, unlike in Flanders and the Netherlands, grammatical gender still trumps semantic gender, which we explain as a L1 transfer effect. In addition, the role of participants’ proficiency in Dutch is discussed.
Keywords: second language acquisition, German NVT-learners, pronominal gender, grammaticality judgements, transfer
Published online: 30 December 2017
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