This study investigates grammatical gender and number processing marked on clitic pronouns in native Spanish speakers and in late English-Spanish bilinguals using ERPs. Spanish clitic pronouns were chosen as a critical grammatical structure which is absent in English, and which encodes both grammatical gender and number. Number, but not grammatical gender, is present in English, making this structure a prime one to investigate second language processing. Results reveal a P600 effect in native speakers for violations of both gender and number. Late but relatively proficient English-Spanish bilinguals show a P600 effect only for number violations occurring at the clitic pronoun, but not for gender violations. However a post-hoc analysis reveals that a subset of highly proficient late bilinguals does reveal sensitivity to violations of grammatical gender marked on clitic pronouns. Taken together these results suggest that native-like processing is possible for highly proficient late second language learners for grammatical features that are not present in the speakers' native language, even when those features are encoded on a grammatical morpheme which itself is absent in the speakers' native language.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||15|
|State||Published - Sep 2014|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience
- Behavioral Neuroscience