Spanish research at PCLS

L2 Gender Acquisition & Discourse Markers at the PCLS Colloquium

By Andie Faber and Anais Holgado-Lage

The Princeton Center for Language Study held its second colloquium of this academic year on March 5th, featuring Andie Faber and Anais Holgado Lage. Anais and Andie each presented a research project they conducted using support from the Center’s funding competition last year to build on work they had started during their time in graduate school.

Andie kicked off the evening with a presentation on grammatical gender assignment among three speaker populations: a native Spanish speaker group and two second language Spanish speaker groups (first language Brazilian Portuguese and first language English). In this study, she used nonce nouns to investigate how these three speaker groups assign gender to new words presented in context. Her goal was to see how first language, noun-endings, and gender-marking on articles and adjectives influence target-gender production.

Anais wrapped up the night’s colloquium with a presentation in which she discussed results of a survey completed as part of her dictionary of Spanish discourse markers. She investigates discourse marker use among Spanish speakers from Spain, Colombia, and Mexico. The results of her work provide data as to which discourse markers are more universally used across Spanish dialects and which have a highly specific regional use.

In the Q&A following the talks, they fielded questions regarding some of the applications of their research to second language pedagogy. This discussion included incorporating dialectal variation in the L2 classroom as well as strategies for improving grammatical gender acquisition as part of the vocabulary learning process.

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