a mistake in asking about gender assignement : academic answers needed URGENT PLZ !!!

Dick Schmidt schmidt.dick at gmail.com
Sun May 17 19:25:46 UTC 2009

Dear Mostari,

It is very likely that that the sound of a word is a strong predictors of
grammatical gender in the L2 case, because that's how gender assignment
works for native speakers of many languages --e.g. Spanish, Portuguese,
Italian, French, German, Polish, German, and Arabic, among others.  It's
particularly interesting that words ending in /a/ are (more often than not)
feminine in a bunch of unrelated languages, such as Portugese and Arabic.
The sound of a word is not the only predictor of gender for any of these
languages. There are always exceptions -- Spanish has very few, while German
has many-- but the sound of a word and natural gender (i.e. using masculine
for biological males) are usually the best two predictors of gender
assignment.  There is a very large literature on this. See some references

In the bilingual case, there are various possibilities for assigning gender
to nouns based on phonological shape.  Words can be assigned gender based on
the gender that a word would have if it were an L1 word (e.g. astuce would
be masculine if it were an Arabic word), the known gender of the word in the
L2 (astuce is feminine in French), the gender that a word would have in the
L2 if it were regular (are most French words ending in -s masculine or
feminine? --I don't know without looking this up in a corpus), or the gender
of the translational equivalent in the L1.

See in particular the interesting paper by Benchiba on gender assignment
when code switching between Morrocan Arabic and English.  French-Arabic
code-switching might be evern harder to disentangle, because both French and
Arabic have grammatical gender (while English does not), so predictions
based on various hypotheses will overlap considerably.

I hope this is helpful!

Dick Schmidt

On Sun, May 17, 2009 at 7:58 AM, mostari hind <hmostari at yahoo.com> wrote:

> dear all ,
> I am awfully sorry because I  wrote the contrary of what I  meant:   the
> speaker states :
> *dak l'astuce* instead of *dik l'astuce* because astuce is a feminine word
> but for the speaker it sounds more masculine and here we cannot speak of
> translation, so what do you think so ?
> can we really speak about  phonological sonority , ie , using the speaker's
> feeling of what  words sounds like ?
> all the best
> Mostari

Richard Schmidt
Professor, Department of Second Language Studies (SLS) and
Director, National Foreign Language Resource Center (NFLRC)
The University of Hawaii at Manoa
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