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Grammatical gender and linguistic relativity: A systematic review

Samuel, Steven and Cole, Geoff and Eacott, Madeline (2019) 'Grammatical gender and linguistic relativity: A systematic review.' Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. ISSN 1069-9384

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Abstract

Many languages assign nouns to a grammatical gender class, such that ‘bed’ might be assigned masculine gender in one language (e.g. Italian) but feminine gender in another (e.g. Spanish). In the context of research assessing the potential for language to influence thought (the linguistic relativity hypothesis), a number of scholars have investigated whether grammatical gender assignment ‘rubs off’ on concepts themselves, such that Italian speakers might conceptualise beds as more masculine than Spanish speakers. We systematically reviewed 43 pieces of empirical research examining grammatical gender and thought, which together tested 5,895 participants. We classified the findings in terms of their support for this hypothesis, and assessed the results against parameters previously identified as potentially influencing outcomes. Overall, we found that support was strongly task- and context-dependent, and rested heavily on outcomes that have clear and equally-viable alternative explanations. We also argue that it remains unclear whether grammatical gender is in fact a useful tool for investigating relativity.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: grammatical gender, Whorf, Linguistic Relativity, Language and Thought
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2019 11:11
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2019 13:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/25035

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