We are pleased to announce the next HL2C seminar, taking place on Thursday 24th February from 3pm-4pm GMT (Dublin, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London).


Montserrat Comesaña (Minho)


The representational nature of grammatical gender: The relevance of language transparency

How to join:

Our seminars are free to attend. Simply sign up to the HL2C Mailing List to receive the link to join us via Microsoft Teams link. You do not need a Teams account to access the talk.


The study of the representation and processing of grammatical gender during noun lexical access in language production has reached controversial results across languages. For Germanic and Slavic languages, a context of agreement has been widely found to be necessary for the emergence of gender competitive effects (e.g., slower responses when two nouns of different gender compete for selection than when these nouns are of same gender –gender congruency effect). For Romance languages, the results are instead puzzling, since some studies find that this context of agreement is necessary, but others do not. Thus, available evidence seems to support the idea that gender nodes would behave differently across language families. The picture is even more clouded with bilingual populations. Late bilinguals who carried out naming and translation tasks showed a gender congruency effect (i.e., faster responses for gender-congruent translation pairs) independently from the language family and the presence of an agreement context. The reason behind the effects obtained with late bilinguals of Germanic languages producing bare nouns (BNs) remains unknown. Here, we will present a series of experiments which are aimed at testing the tenets of a recent hypothesis developed in our lab: the Gender Acquisition and Processing (GAP) hypothesis. This hypothesis explains data discrepancies across studies with native speakers of different languages as a result of differences in the basal activation level of gender nodes due to the disparity in the degree of phonological gender transparency of each language. Also, it explain the findings with late bilinguals as a result of the way second languages (L2s) are learned and used.