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Does gender make a difference? Comparing the effect of gender on children's comprehension of relative clauses in Hebrew and Italian In this paper we assessed the effect of gender morphology on children's comprehension of object relatives in Hebrew and Italian. We compared headed relative clauses in which the relative head (the moved object) and the intervening embedded subject have the same or different genders. The participants were 62 children aged 3;9-5;5, 31 speakers of Hebrew and 31 speakers of Italian. The comprehension of relative clauses was assessed using a sentence-picture matching task. The main result was that whereas gender mismatch sharply improved the comprehension of object relatives in Hebrew, it did not significantly affect comprehension in Italian. In line with our previous work (Friedmann, Belletti, and Rizzi, 2009), we propose that the children's problem in the comprehension of headed object relatives stems from the intervention of the embedded subject between the moved relative head and its trace. We ascribe the different behavior of children in Hebrew and in Italian to the different status of the gender feature in the two languages: in Hebrew, gender is part of the featural composition of the clausa

Year: 2013
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