The development of interrogative forms and functions in early childhood Cantonese

Hui Li*, Shek Kam Tse, Jessie Ming Sin Wong, Eileen Chin Mei Wong, Shing On Leung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigated question acquisition in Cantonese-speaking young children with a focus on the development of interrogative forms and functions. Data from a child Cantonese corpus (492 children aged 36, 48 and 60 months) were analysed. The main results were that: (1) all the interrogative forms and functions were produced by the three age groups and no age difference was found; (2) significant gender differences in favour of females were found; and (3) a significant form-function preference was obtained, with wh- and multiple questions being primarily used to seek information, and yes/no and rising tone/echo questions being largely used to request action.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-181
Number of pages14
JournalFirst Language
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cantonese early childhood
  • question acquisition


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