“He’s pregnant”: simulating the confusing case of gender pronoun errors in L2


Even advanced Spanish speakers of second language English tend to confuse the pronouns 'he' and 'she', often without even noticing their mistake (Lahoz, 1991). A study by Antón-Méndez (2010) has indicated that a possible reason for this error is the fact that Spanish is a pro-drop language. In order to test this hypothesis, we used an extension of Dual-path (Chang, 2002), a computational cognitive model of sentence production, to simulate two models of bilingual speech production of second language English. One model had Spanish (ES) as a native language, whereas the other learned a Spanish-like language that used the pronoun at all times (non-pro-drop Spanish, NPD_ES). When tested on L2 English sentences, the bilingual pro-drop Spanish model produced significantly more gender pronoun errors, confirming that pronoun dropping could indeed be responsible for the gender confusion in natural language use as well.

Back to Table of Contents