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More on Rules for Rules: Gender in Spanish and the Monitor User



Abstract  In attempting to perfect rules for use in pedagogical grammars, there is a tendency to rely too heavily on formal criteria, without taking into account actual data about language use. Two sets of rules for determining noun gender and making gender agreements in Spanish are examined critically on the basis of both formal criteria, including frequency in discourse of the items described by the rules, and the notions about the role of rules in second language use formalized in the Monitor Model. Some of the proposed rules prove to be either descriptively invalid or, for other reasons, likely to be of little practical utility to the language user. It is suggested that formal criteria, psychological criteria, and data about actual language use by second language learners should be considered in evaluating the formal rules of a pedagogical grammar.