Chapter published in:Studies in Chinese and Japanese Language Acquisition: In honor of Stephen Crain
Edited by Mineharu Nakayama, Yi-ching Su and Aijun Huang
[Language Acquisition and Language Disorders 60] 2017
► pp. 237–263
The acquisition of the wh-pronoun duo-shao in child Mandarin
The Mandarin Chinese wh-pronouns ji-ge ‘how many-cl’ and duo-shao ‘a lot-a little’ can be roughly translated in English as ‘how-many’ and ‘how-much’, respectively. When these two wh-pronouns interact with the negation operator mei ‘not’, there derive similar but not identical readings: while the negative ji-ge structure conveys a ‘smallness’ in number (i.e., ‘small-number’), the negative duo-shao structure conveys a ‘smallness’ in quantity (i.e., ‘small-amount’). Huang and Crain (2014a) studied Mandarin-speaking children’s acquisition of the ‘small-number’ reading of the negative ji-ge structure. It was found that children undergo three developmental stages in the acquisition of the ‘small-number’ reading of the negative ji-ge structure, exhibiting the emergence of the full range of the meanings of ji-ge in the course of language development. The present study extends the inquiry of Huang and Crain (2014a) and investigates the acquisition of the ‘small-amount’ reading of the negative duo-shao structure. The experimental data exhibit two developmental stages, which are argued to reflect the development of the semantic and pragmatic properties of the wh-pronoun duo-shao. In short, the acquisition scenario of the negative duo-shao structure is different from that of the negative ji-ge structure, but both studies suggest that the semantic and pragmatic properties of Chinese wh-pronouns determine the acquisition of Chinese wh-pronouns in negative structures.
Published online: 24 August 2017
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Crain, S. & Thornton, R.
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