Events

Agreement attraction (e.g., The key to the cabinets are …) has received much cross-language attention in language production, but little attention in language comprehension, with most evidence drawn from number attraction in English and Romance languages. A generalization which is common in these studies is that only marked (plural) number provokes attraction. Since number is not an inherent feature of a noun, a possible explanation of attraction effect is that during the structure building number features are assigned incorrectly. Another possible explanation is that a (marked) feature on a noun makes it more "visible" for memory retrieval mechanisms and sometimes triggers a retrieval error. In our self-paced reading study in Russian comprehension we are looking at gender feature. Grammatical gender is inherent to a noun and is much less likely to be mis-assigned. However, we find evidence that gender attraction exists; surprisingly, this is the unmarked (masculine) gender which provokes attraction.This result challenges the feature mis-assignment account of attraction and suggests that an alternative approach based on memory retrieval mechanisms might also be modified to accomodate our findings .