LINGUIST List 25.5149

Wed Dec 17 2014

Diss: Mandarin Chinese; Language Acquisition, Syntax: Hu: 'Intervention Effects and the Acquisition of Relativization and Topicalization in Chinese'

Editor for this issue: Danuta Allen <danutalinguistlist.org>


Date: 17-Dec-2014
From: Shenai Hu <huxinaigmail.com>
Subject: Intervention Effects and the Acquisition of Relativization and Topicalization in Chinese
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Institution: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona; Universita degli Studi di Milano-Bicocca
Program: Cognitive Science and Language; Department of Psychology
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2014

Author: Shenai Hu

Dissertation Title: Intervention Effects and the Acquisition of Relativization and Topicalization in Chinese

Dissertation URL: https://boa.unimib.it/handle/10281/53875

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition
                            Syntax

Subject Language(s): Chinese, Mandarin (cmn)

Dissertation Director:
Anna Gavarró
Maria Teresa Guasti

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis is about the acquisition of relativization and topicalization in Chinese.
Through a series of experimental studies, I obtain the following results. First, a disadvantage of object relatives holds in comprehension and in production for children from three to seven years of age. Second, subject relatives are also difficult to comprehend and elicit a variety of errors from children up to six years of age. Third, a large use of resumptive NPs is observed in production across age groups (including adults); for many adult native speakers of Mandarin Chinese, relative clauses with resumptive NPs are acceptable in spoken Chinese. Fourth, children from three to six years of age understand sentences featuring object topicalization as well as those featuring subject topicalization; on both structures children perform at ceiling at five years of age.
The noted difficulty of object relatives is captured by the Relativized Minimality approach. I propose that structural intervention of the subject within the chain connecting the relative head and its copy is the source of the difficulty. With respect to topicalization, the results are interpreted by assuming that topicalization in Chinese does not involve A’-movement, but an anaphoric relation between the empty category pro and the base-generated topic.



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