Gender and Lexical Access in Bulgarian

This page provides supplements for the manuscript:

Gender and Lexical Access in Bulgarian

Elena Andonova
New Bulgarian University

Simona D'Amico
University of Rome "La Sapienza"

Antonella Devescovi
University of Rome "La Sapienza"

Elizabeth Bates
University of California, San Diego

(To appear in Perception & Psychophysics)

Two procedures were used to explore the effects of semantic and grammatical gender on recognition and processing of Bulgarian nouns, in relation to other factors that are known to affect lexical access . This study in a three-gender language is modeled on previous work in Italian, a two-gender language (Bates et al., 1995). Words were presented auditorily in randomized lists, in two tasks: (a) repeat the word as fast as possible; (b) determine the grammatical gender of the noun as soon as possible and indicate the decision by pressing a button. Reaction times in both tasks were influenced by phonological factors, word frequency and irregularity of gender marking, but semantic and grammatical gender only affected gender monitoring. The significant contribution of semantic gender to processing in Bulgarian contrasts with previous findings for Italian. Also, we obtained an interaction between sex of the participant and noun gender, reflecting a bias toward one's own grammatical gender 'counterpart' (especially for females). Reanalysis of the prior study in Italian showed a similar interaction, but confirmed no effects of the semantic gender of the noun, suggesting that these two 'natural gender' effects can dissociate. Possible reasons for cross-linguistic differences are discussed, with implications for comparative studies of gender and lexical access.