The Acquisition of Grammatical Gender in Arabic Demonstratives by English Native Speakers

Anwar Saad Aljadani


Recently, an increase interest in the acquisition of grammatical gender by second language (L2) learners has been revealed. This paper investigated the acquisition of Arabic, a language that has a rich grammatical gender system, by speakers of a first language (L1) that does not have gender (English). Arabic demonstrative pronouns selected as the linguistic feature to be investigated. Due to the gender differentiations, Arabic has nearly ten demonstrative pronouns whereas English has four demonstrative pronouns. Consequently, learnability considerations, the Full Transfer/Full Access (FT/FA) hypothesis presumes that English learners of Arabic will have the ability to acquire L2 grammatical gender despite the absence of these systems in their L1. However, the Failed Functional Features (FFF) hypothesis predicts that English learners of Arabic cannot acquire these systems since they are not available in their L1. This paper investigated the ability of English learners of Arabic in acquiring the Arabic demonstrative pronouns with their gender as accurate as native speakers of Arabic do. Moreover, does the proficiency level play a role in the acquisition of demonstratives? Finally, which hypothesis will be supported by the findings? It was found that L2 learners did not acquire the phenomenon as accurate as the native speakers did. Furthermore, proficiency level played a role in the acquisition of demonstratives as a significant disparity between L2 learners’ levels was appeared. Finally, the current outcomes could be attributed to FT/FA hypothesis.

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International Journal of Contemporary Education

ISSN 2575-3177 (Print)   ISSN 2575-3185 (Online)

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