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Speech Representation Used by Mandarin Chinese-Speaking Children Aged Three to Six Years

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  03 March 2022

Wei GUAN
Affiliation:
School of Foreign Languages, Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, China
Haitao LIU*
Affiliation:
Zhejiang University, China Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China
*
*Corresponding author: Department of Linguistics, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China; and Center for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, Guangzhou, China. E-mail: htliu@163.com

Abstract

This study investigates how Mandarin Chinese-speaking children use Mandarin Chinese, a language lacking tense markers, to represent characters’ speech in their story narratives. Eighty participants, from three to six years of age, completed an elicited narrative task based on a wordless picture book. The representing forms and signals that they employed in representing activities were assessed. The results showed a significant age-related increase in the overall use of speech representation by the cohort of children. Regarding representing forms, direct representation exhibited its expected dominance among all age groups, and its presence in children’s narratives grew significantly with age. Concerning representing signals, shuō ‘say’ was the most prevalent across all ages and susceptible to significant age effects, and, with advancing age, children’s representing signals expanded from single verbs to more complex syntactic constructions. In addition, no significant gender effects were observed regarding the representing forms or signals that Mandarin-speaking children used.

Type
Article
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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