University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics


Several grammatical studies have focused on the study of morphological innovations used as non-binary forms in Spanish (-x; -e). However, there are no experimental studies that analyze their psycholinguistic processing or the multiple and complex relationships between production and comprehension in non- binary language. To analyze this phenomenon, we performed a sentence reading and comprehension task. We recorded reading times, response times, and accuracy. We considered morphology, stereotypicality and frequency of use of non-binary forms in the participants as predictors. The results show specialization of the non-binary forms as generic morphological variants, as opposed to the generic masculine. The non- binary forms consistently elicited a reference to mixed groups and response times showed that these morphological variants do not carry a higher processing cost than the generic masculine. Moreover, it is possible to see that the conscious use of non-binary forms influences the comprehension processes of the different variants of gender morphology: as the voluntary use of non-binary forms increases, the generic masculine seems to concentrate its reference to groups of men exclusively. Thus, in addition to showing general evidence regarding the processing costs and comprehension of gender morphology in Spanish, our data allow us to observe a potential reciprocal link between production and comprehension processes that deserves further study.



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