Edited by Tania Ionin and Matthew Rispoli
[Language Acquisition and Language Disorders 63] 2019
► pp. 159–186
Differentiating universal quantification from completive aspect in child Cantonese
The present study examines Cantonese-speaking preschool children’s sensitivity to the distinction between universal quantification (marked by the quantifier verb suffix saai3 ‘all’) and completive aspect (marked by the aspectual verb jyun4 ‘finish’). Using the Truth Value Judgment task and the Picture Selection task, we tested 97 children and 105 adults in a between-subject design on either jyun4-sentences or the corresponding saai3-sentences, paired with a completion (“post-state”) reading and a non-completion (“in-state”) reading. Our findings demonstrate that children systematically distinguish universal quantification from completive aspect, though an incorrect aspectual reading is sometimes assigned to the quantifier affix.