Gender agreement in L3 English by Basque/Spanish bilinguals

Ainara Imaz Aguirre, María del Pilar García Mayo.
Linguistic Approaches to Bilingualism

This study investigates knowledge of the nominal agreement domain in L3 English by Basque/Spanish bilinguals. Gender agreement has been claimed to be an interpretable feature in English and could be claimed to be so for Basque, whereas Spanish shows uninterpretable gender agreement. Under current representational and computational accounts posited to explain variability in L2 learner production, interpretable features are acquirable. The participants in the present study (n=34) were Basque/Spanish bilinguals of two proficiency levels in English (intermediate and advanced) and a control group of English native speakers (n=17). They completed two oral production tasks (elicitation and picture narration tasks). Results from both tasks indicate that Basque/Spanish bilinguals seem to have acquired gender agreement in L3 English but still have production problems which could be explained on the basis of linguistic features (animacy) and gender attraction effects of the Spanish head noun as well as the different proficiency levels.