Chapter published in:Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Vietnamese Linguistics
Edited by Nigel Duffield, Trang Phan and Tue Trinh
[Studies in Language Companion Series 211] 2019
► pp. 215–240
Chapter 10Vietnamese children’s interpretation of definite noun phrases
Most work on the acquisition of definiteness examines languages with definite determiners and grammaticalised number, and finds slower acquisition of definiteness compared to number. We replicate an act-out task from Munn et al. (2006) testing comprehension of definites in Vietnamese – a language with neither of these characteristics. In contrast to the results from English and Spanish children, Vietnamese children are found to make few definiteness errors, instead struggling with number, casting doubt on a universal difficulty with definiteness. We argue that this difference stems from the way in which children integrate information from number and definiteness. Given a high level of task difficulty, children acquiring languages with definite determiners and grammatical number, such as English and Spanish, sacrifice definiteness in favour of number, while those acquiring Vietnamese prioritise definiteness, resulting in number errors.
Keywords: definite noun phrases, number, definiteness, plurality, pluralisers, classifiers, Vietnamese, classifier languages, first language acquisition, act out task
- 2.The acquisition problem
- 3.Acquisition background
- 4.Vietnamese noun phrases
- 5.Research questions
- 6.Hypotheses and predictions
- 7.Experiment 1
- 7.4.1Control sentences
- 7.4.2Experimental sentences
- 7.4.3Results: Number
- 7.4.4Results: Definiteness
- 8.Experiment 2
- 9.General discussion
Published online: 09 October 2019
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