Children's knowledge of ellipsis constructions in Mandarin Chinese

Peng Zhou

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    2 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    This study investigated 4-year-old children's knowledge of the structural constraints on ellipsis constructions in Mandarin Chinese, focusing on the structural difference between verb phrase (VP) ellipsis and null object constructions. In Mandarin Chinese, if the antecedent clause of a VP-ellipsis structure contains an adverbial modifier, this adverbial modifier must be recovered at the elided site in the second clause. However, if the antecedent clause of a null object construction contains an adverbial modifier, the reconstruction of this adverbial modifier at the elided site is not necessary. Two experiments were conducted to examine whether young Mandarin-speaking children are sensitive to this structural difference between the two ellipsis constructions. The results show that children exhibited adult-like performance in both experiments. This is evidence that young Mandarin-speaking children have knowledge of the structural difference between VP-ellipsis and null object constructions with regard to adverbial recovery. We interpreted the findings in conjunction with previous research as evidence that children's knowledge of the structural constraints on ellipsis constructions is innately specified.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)421-445
    Number of pages25
    JournalJournal of Psycholinguistic Research
    Volume43
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

    Keywords

    • Child language
    • Mandarin Chinese
    • Null object constructions
    • Structural constraints
    • VP-ellipsis

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