Vol. 4,No. 3, March 2014

Author(s): Mansoor Fahim, Ehsan Abbaspour, Mahdi Rajaee Nia

Abstract: The present study investigated the effect of grammatical gender on object categorization. To this end, two experiments were designed. In the first experiment, German and Arabic native speakers’ perceptions of similarity between objects and people were compared via picture matching tasks in which the participants were asked to match a series of people’s pictures to pictures of a series of inanimate objects along with body parts. The pictures chosen were of opposite grammatical gender in German and Arabic (none of the chosen pictures was neuter in German).The results indicated that there was a significant difference between both groups’ choice pattern, i.e., each group had a tendency to match the pictures based on their mother tongues’ grammatical gender. Further, to investigate the effects of grammatical gender on concepts of objects in bilingual speakers of two languages that assign opposite gender to the same object, the second experiment was implemented. In experiment two, similar to experiment one, picture matching tasks were carried out by Spanish native speakers and Persian-Spanish bilinguals as experimental groups and Persian native speakers as control group. The results revealed that there was a significant difference between Spanish native speakers and Persian native speakers’ performances. However, the inferential analysis did not show any significant difference between Persian-Spanish bilinguals’ performance with those of the other two groups. The overall findings showed that mother tongue significantly affects the cognition of the speakers while second language does not have such salience in affecting the cognition.

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