ERIC Number: ED233576
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Jul
Reference Count: 0
Why Chinese Children's Acquisition of Mandarin Predicates Should Be "Just Like English."
Although Mandarin is a discourse topic oriented language rather than a subject and sentence oriented one, Chinese children acquiring Mandarin attempt in their early speech to exactly mark the same referential grammatical relationships as subject, object, location, and instrument by using case or ergative markers. Only after marking a closed set of possible sentential relations with a fixed word order do they move on to control the highly variable open set of context sensitive topic chains which are so crucial to their language. Despite the striking formal differences between Mandarin and other languages, the Chinese children's acquisition strategies are similar to those of children acquiring other languages. Based on a statistical analysis of 135,000 coded, contextualized child Mandarin utterances, five stages for the acquisition of predicates in Mandarin are defined which are believed to exist cross-linguistically. These stages are: single actions; binary actions; enhanced transitivity actions, states, and causes; full predicate systems; and full discourse. It is concluded that the young child's preference for a highly transitive, agentive prototype is adaptive. (RW)
Descriptors: Child Language, Grammar, Language Acquisition, Mandarin Chinese, Sentence Structure, Young Children
PRCLD, Department of Linguistics, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305 ($12.00).
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Stanford Univ., CA. Dept. of Linguistics.
Note: In its: Papers and Reports on Child Language Development, Volume 22, p49-57, Jul 1983. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Child Language Research Forum (14th, Stanford, CA, March 1983).