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«Sex and Size: The Influence of Grammatical Gender on Object Perception in English and German 1 Sex and Size: The Influence of Grammatical Gender on ...»

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Another limitation is that diminutives differ across languages and therefore, only a handful could be matched between American English and German. In German, for example, Sex and Size: The Influence of Grammatical Gender on Object Perception in English and German 47 there is no word for ‘jammies’ and in American English, there is no single-word diminutive for Tischlein, ‘little table’. A study of this nature would be best suited on speakers of a variety of English that employs more diminutives, e.g. Australian English.

To revisit the story of my friend who was confused about why some pieces of furniture were masculine, we can conclude that at a young age, the semantic associations he had between objects and words outweighed the influence of grammatical gender. His story to me was consistent with my findings that diminutives would be perceived according to their cultural associations with femininity and not according to their neuter grammatical gender.

This study supports the idea that the nature of one’s language affects the perception of objects, but it does not determine perceptions, as evidenced by the overwhelming amount of cultural influence on the perception of diminutives.

It has been suggested by Zubin and Köpcke (1984) that grammatical gender is psychologically important to speakers. Not only does it help disambiguate anaphoric and cataphoric reference, help speakers anticipate forthcoming constructions and help the comprehension process of complex noun phrases, it is also important for lexical retrieval. To speakers of a gender-marked language, gender is an important part of comprehension and is employed in many different ways.

Sex and Size: The Influence of Grammatical Gender on Object Perception in English and German 48

11. References

Blount, B. (1995) Language, Culture and Society: a book of readings: Prospect Heights, IL:

–  –  –

Boroditsky, L. Schmidt, L., and Phillips, W., in press: “Sex, Syntax and Semantics.” Gentner & Goldin-Meadows (Eds.,). To appear in Language in Mind: Advances in the Study of

–  –  –

Collins, W. Unpublished Manuscript. 2006.

Corbett, G. (1991) Gender, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Curzan, A. (2003) Gender Shifts in the History of English. New York: Cambridge University

–  –  –

Lakoff, G. Women, Fire and Dangerous Things. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Durrell, M. (2002) Hammer’s German Grammar and Usage. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Mills, A. The Acquisition of Gender: A study of German and English. (1986) New York:

Springer Series in Language and Communication Sera, M., Berge, C, Pinatado, J (1994) Grammatical and Conceptual Forces in the Attribution of Gender by English and Spanish Speakers. Cognative Development, 9, 3, 261-292 Steinmetz, D. (1985) The Great Gender Shift and the Attribution of Neuter Nouns in West Germanic: the example of German. In Rauch, I., Carr, G. (Eds.), New Insights in Germanic Linguistics II. New York: Peter Lang..

Steinmetz, D. (1985) Gender in German and Icelandic: Inanimate Nouns. In: Faarlund J.T.

(Ed.), Germanic Linguistics. Papers from a Symposium at the University of Chicago.

IULC, Bloomington, IN.

Sex and Size: The Influence of Grammatical Gender on Object Perception in English and German 49 Whorf, B. (1956) Language, Thought and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf, ed.

J.B. Carroll, Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Zubin, D. and Köpcke, K.M. (1984) “Sechs Prinzipien für die Genuszuweisung im Deutschen:

Ein Beitrag zur natürlichen Klassifikation,” Linguistiche Berichte, 89:26-50.

Sex and Size: The Influence of Grammatical Gender on Object Perception in English and German 50 Appendix I: Instructions for the Forced-Choice and Similarity Tasks

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1. In this experiment, we will first ask you to do two things. First you will see three pictures. Look at the picture at the bottom in the center, then decide as quickly as possible which of the two pictures above it is most similar to it. You might not be sure which picture to choose.

If this is the case, give us your first impression.

If you think the picture on the left is most similar, press the button on the far left labled "L." If the picture on the right is most similar, press the button on the far right labled "R."

We will be timing these responses, so please make them as quickly as you can. Try to keep responses under 4 seconds. You will see the amount of time each response takes following your button press.

Press any key to continue

2. The second task we want you to do is evaluate how similar the picture you chose was to the picture at the bottom of the screen. You will see a screen which will ask you to rate the similarity of the two pictures on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is least similar and 5 is most similar.

Press the button on the response box with the number that matches your rating. We will not be timing this response. Please try to use the full extent of the scale. After you give us your rating, the next set of pictures will appear.

If you have any questions, ask the experimenter. Press any key to begin the practice session.





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6. The practice session is over. If you have any questions, please ask the experimenter.

Review of Instructions:

First, choose the picture that is most similar to the one at the lower center by pressing the "L"or "R" button. Do this as quickly as possible. Try to keep your responses under 4 seconds.

Then, rate the similaritity of the pictures on a scale of 1-5, where 1 is least similar and 5 is most similar. This is not timed.

–  –  –

(repeat instructions four and five) Sex and Size: The Influence of Grammatical Gender on Object Perception in English and German 51

German Instructions:

1. In diesem Experiment bitten wir Sie, zwei Dinge zu tun. Zuerst werden Sie drei Bilder sehen. Schauen Sie sich das Bild unten in der Mitte an und entscheiden Sie so schnell Sie können, welchem der beiden obigen Bilder es ähnlicher ist. Es ist möglich, dass Sie nicht sicher sind, welches Bild Sie wählen sollen. In diesem Fall wählen Sie bitte das Bild, das Ihnen spontan ähnlicher erschien.

Wenn Sie denken, dass das linke Bild dem Bild unten in der Mitte ähnlicher ist, drücken Sie bitte die Taste unten links mit der Aufschrift "L". Wenn das rechte Bild ähnlicher ist, drücken Sie bitte die Taste unten rechts mit der Aufschrift "R".

Wir messen Ihre Reaktionszeit. Antworten Sie deshalb bitte so schnell Sie können.

Versuchen Sie, in unter 4 Sekunden zu antworten. Nachdem Sie per Tastendruck geantwortet haben, sehen Sie wie lange Sie für Ihre Antwort gebraucht haben.

–  –  –

2. Ihre zweite Aufgabe ist es, zu beurteilen wie ähnlich das Bild, das Sie ausgewählt haben, dem Bild unten in der Mitte war. Sie werden auf dem Bildschirm eine Darstellung sehen mit der Aufforderung, die Ähnlichkeit der beiden Bilder auf einer Skala von 1 bis 5 zu bewerten, wobei 1 'gar nicht ähnlich' und 5 'sehr ähnlich' bedeutet.

Drücken Sie die Taste der response box, die mit der Nummer ihrer Beurteilung übereinstimmt. Zum Beispiel, wenn Sie denken, dass sich die Bilder sehr ähnlich sind, drücken die die Taste mit der Aufschrift 5. Für diese Aufgabe messen wir Ihre Reaktionszeit nicht. Bitte versuchen Sie, den vollen Umfang der Skala auszunutzen. Nachdem Sie uns Ihre Beurteilung gegeben haben, erscheint die Frage "Bereit für die nächsten Bilder?" auf dem Bildschirm.

Drücken Sie irgendeine Taste, sobald Sie bereit sind.

Wenn Sie noch Fragen haben, fragen Sie bitte den/die Experimentsleiter/in. Drücken Sie irgendeine Taste, um die Übungsphase zu starten.

–  –  –

4. Bereit für den nächsten Durchgang?

Weiter mit irgendeiner Taste

6. Dies ist das Ende der Übungsphase. Wenn Sie noch Fragen haben, fragen Sie bitte jetzt den/die Experimentsleiter/in.

Sex and Size: The Influence of Grammatical Gender on Object Perception in English and German 52

Überblick über die Anweisungen:

Zuerst wählen Sie bitte das obige Bild, das dem Bild unten in der Mitte ähnlicher ist, indem Sie die "L"- oder "R"-Taste drücken. Tun Sie dies so schnell wie möglich. Versuchen Sie, in unter 4 Sekunden zu antworten.

Danach beurteilen Sie bitte, wie ähnlich sich die beiden Bilder sind auf einer Skala von 1 bis 5, wobei 1 ‚gar nicht ähnlich' und 5 ‚sehr ähnlich' bedeutet. Für diese Aufgabe messen wir Ihre Reaktionszeit nicht.

Weiter mit irgendeiner Taste (repeat instructions four and five) Sex and Size: The Influence of Grammatical Gender on Object Perception in English and German 53 Appendix II: Slides

–  –  –

Example German Slide List:

Stimuli Key 1 Key 5 Fröschlein Königin König Bäuchlein König Königin Hündchen Mann Frau Flüsschen Frau Mann Schweinchen Riese Ballerina Häschen Ballerina Riese Fischlein Königin König Väterchen König Königin Füßchen Mann Frau Vögelein Frau Mann Tröpfchen Riese Ballerina Schätzchen Ballerina Riese Sex and Size: The Influence of Grammatical Gender on Object Perception in English and German 58

–  –  –

Appendix III: Experimental Pictures Sex and Size: The Influence of Grammatical Gender on Object Perception in English and German 64 Sex and Size: The Influence of Grammatical Gender on Object Perception in English and German 65



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