Edited by Anahí Alba de la Fuente, Elena Valenzuela and Cristina Martínez Sanz
[Studies in Bilingualism 51] 2016
► pp. 73–98
When masculine as default supercedes L1 transfer
Bilingual speakers of languages with asymmetric gender systems
Previous research has shown that L2 gender use strategies vary according to the bilingual’s L1, with native speakers of languages without grammatical gender (such as English) tending to use masculine as a default while native speakers of languages with a gender feature (such as Spanish) opt for transfer of the L1 gender. In this study we examine L1 Spanish-L2 German bilinguals’ use of gender in the L2 through an analysis of errors in oral production. The results showed that, contrary to what has previously been found for L1 speakers of languages with grammatical gender, these bilinguals tended to use masculine as a default strategy. We argue that the difference in L2 gender use strategy is due to the unique representation of the Spanish and German gender systems.