Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 22, Issue 5, pp 519–534 | Cite as

The semantics of grammatical gender: A cross-cultural study

  • Toshi Konishi
Article

Abstract

Although most present-day scholars claim that grammatical gender has no meaning correlates, anecdotal evidence dating back to the Greeks suggests that grammatical gender carries connotative meanings of femininity and masculinity. In the present study native German speakers (tested in Germany) and native Spanish speakers (tested in Mexico) judged 54 high-frequency translation equivalents on semantic differential scales chosen to reflect dimensions of evaluation, potency, and activity. Half the words were of feminine gender in German but of masculine gender in Spanish (Type I words), and half were of masculine gender in German and of feminine gender in Spanish (Type II words). As predicted, German speakers judged Type II words higher in potency than Type I words, whereas Spanish speakers judged Type I words higher in potency than Type II words. The conclusion was that grammatical gender does affect meaning.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Toshi Konishi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos Angeles

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