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|Title: ||Anaphoric dependencies : reflexive binding and null arguments in child mandarin|
|Other Titles: ||Zhao ying yi cun guan xi : Han yu fan shen dai ci he kong zhu mu yu de er tong yu yan xi de yan jiu|
照應依存關係 : 漢語反身代詞和空主目語的兒童語言習得研究
|Authors: ||Li, Ruya (李汝亞)|
|Department: ||Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics|
|Degree: ||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Issue Date: ||2010|
|Publisher: ||City University of Hong Kong|
|Subjects: ||Language acquisition.|
Chinese language -- Reflexives.
Chinese language -- Syntax.
Children -- China -- Language.
|Notes: ||CityU Call Number: P118 .L445 2010|
xiv, 322 leaves : ill. 30 cm.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--City University of Hong Kong, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 305-315)
|Abstract: ||This thesis investigates children's acquisition of reflexive binding and null
arguments in Mandarin Chinese, focusing on the interplay between linguistic theory and
language acquisition. It provides data on Mandarin-speaking children's interpretation of
ziji and their use of null subjects and null objects by experimenting on a large number of
subjects, using a range of experimental techniques such as the truth value judgment task,
the picture identification task, and the story-retelling task.
It is found that children starting from 4 years of age were sensitive to the blocking
effect of person feature conflicts between subjects. They were also sensitive to the
contrastive discourse context that licenses a long-distance binding of ziji. Nevertheless,
they differed from adults in their choices of the antecedents for ziji with respect to their
sensitivity to the factors such as grammatical functions, thematic roles, and animacy. It
finds that even up to the age of six they still differed from adults in being free from the
subject orientation effect when choosing antecedents for ziji, confirming the
experimental results of earlier studies (Chien 1992; Chien & Li 1998). The 3-year-old
children's responses were different from those of the older children. They were
insensitive to the blocking effect induced by person feature conflicts. They accepted the
long-distance binding regardless of whether the subjects agreed in person features or not.
They had difficulty in interpreting long-distance ziji used in a contrastive discourse
context. They demonstrated non-adult-like sensitivity to grammatical functions,
thematic roles and animacy in their choices of the antecedents for ziji.
The present findings lend support to the hypothesis that children have early knowledge of locality, but have difficulty with the interface of syntactic properties with
semantic and pragmatic factors. It is argued that children's sensitivity to the blocking
effect reflects their knowledge of locality defined by the governing category whereas
their choice of antecedents is regulated by their knowledge of prominence incorporated
with syntactic, semantic and pragmatic factors. The results of this study suggest that
children's mastery of locality, i.e., the governing category, as evidenced by 4 years of
age, follows a biologically programmed maturational schedule (Borer & Wexler 1987;
Wexler 1999) whereas their acquisition of prominence develops later as they need more
time to learn how to co-ordinate syntactic properties with semantic and pragmatics
With respect to children's use of null arguments in narratives, the thesis has two
findings. First, children's use of null subjects was constrained by the principle of topic
continuity in discourse. They tended to use null subjects to refer back to antecedent
subjects, and null objects to antecedent objects. Second, children were sensitive to the
animacy effect on the use of overt and empty pronouns. They tended to use null objects
to refer to inanimate entities rather than animate or human entities, and such preference
strengthened with age.|
|Online Catalog Link: ||http://lib.cityu.edu.hk/record=b3947616|
|Appears in Collections:||CTL - Doctor of Philosophy |
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