Conceptualizations of Gender in Language

Abstract

Previous research has shown that speakers of gendered languages think about and categorize nouns in accordance with the noun’s grammatical gender. Past studies have often used languages that do not mark grammatical gender as “genderless” control languages. We examine whether this characterization of non-gendered languages is in fact correct, by examining whether native speakers attribute gender to English nouns and adjectives. Our results suggest that adult and child native speakers of English do attribute gender to adjectives and nouns, despite the lack of grammatical gender in English. Additionally, these gender attributions appear to be ones that develop with age.


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