Do girls outperform boys in early syntactic development? Negative evidence from Mandarin-speaking preschoolers

Nga Yui Tong, Hui Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This study aimed to verify the sex differences seen in our previous study on early syntactic development among Cantonese-speaking children with the same corpus design but a different Chinese language: Mandarin. The utterances produced during half-hour play activities by 192 Beijing children, ranging from 3 to 6 years, were collected in the Early Child Mandarin Corpus and analyzed in this study. Their syntactic development was measured in terms of mean length of utterance (MLU), sentence type and structure, syntactic complexity, and verb pattern. The statistical analyses indicated significant age differences in MLU, sentence types and structures, and syntactic complexity. However, no sex or age-by-sex differences in MLU were found. This negative evidence indicates that sex difference is neither universal nor cross-language. The implications for early childhood education and future studies are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number281
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalLanguages
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2022. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • Mandarin-speaking children
  • sex differences
  • syntactic development

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