Cognitive predictors of generalization of Russian grammatical gender categories

Vera Kempe, Patricia J. Brooks, Anatoliy Kharkhurin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 17 Citations

Abstract

This study explores how learners generalize grammatical categories such as noun gender. Adult native English speakers with no prior knowledge of Russian (N = 47, ages 17–55 years) were trained to categorize Russian masculine and feminine diminutive nouns according to gender. The training set was morphophonologically homogeneous due to similarities induced by the diminutive suffixes. Generalization was tested using simplex and diminutive nouns with trained or novel stems. Age, familiarity with other second languages, nonverbal intelligence, and verbal working memory capacity were used to predict performance. Compared to trained diminutives, learners showed equally high accuracy in gender categorization of transparent simplex nouns with trained stems and diminutive nouns with novel stems. Accuracy dropped significantly for nontransparent simplex nouns with trained stems and transparent simplex nouns with novel stems. Verbal working memory capacity predicted gender categorization of nontransparent nouns and vocabulary recall, whereas age, nonverbal intelligence, and prior experience with languages with transparent gender categories affected performance in nouns containing at least some degree of gender transparency. The findings indicate that pattern-based and memory-based learning processes coexist in adult learners. However, age affected performance on pattern-based processes but not memory-based processes like rote memorization of vocabulary and gender categorization of nontransparent nouns. This finding is interpreted in the context of proposals concerning the role of declarative and procedural memory in L2 learning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-153
Number of pages27
JournalLanguage Learning
Volume60
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2010

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Diminutives
memory
Verbal working memory
Working memory capacity
age
category
performance
Prior knowledge
Adult learners
Declarative memory
L2 learning
Familiarity
Predictors
Learning process
Prior experience
Transparency
Procedural memory
Memorization
Grammatical gender
Grammatical categories

Cite this

Kempe, Vera; Brooks, Patricia J.; Kharkhurin, Anatoliy / Cognitive predictors of generalization of Russian grammatical gender categories.

In: Language Learning, Vol. 60, No. 1, 03.2010, p. 127-153.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Cognitive predictors of generalization of Russian grammatical gender categories. / Kempe, Vera; Brooks, Patricia J.; Kharkhurin, Anatoliy.

In: Language Learning, Vol. 60, No. 1, 03.2010, p. 127-153.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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