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Raciolinguistics

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Sociolinguistics from the Periphery

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Academic Paper


Title: Scope Assignment in Child Language: Evidence from the acquisition of Chinese
Author: Peng Zhou
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.maccs.mq.edu.au/members/profile.html?memberID=222
Institution: Macquarie University
Linguistic Field: Language Acquisition
Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin
Abstract: In this paper, we investigated how Mandarin-speaking children and adults understand the scope relation between the universal quantifier and negation in sentences like Mei-pi ma dou meiyou tiaoguo liba 'Every horse didn't jump over the fence' and Bushi mei-pi ma dou tiaoguo-le liba 'Not every horse jumped over the fence'. We found that Mandarin-speaking children accepted these two types of sentences in both the surface scope and the inverse scope scenarios, whereas Mandarin-speaking adults only permitted them in the surface scope scenarios. The findings of this study, combined with previous research with English-speaking children, invite the conclusion that children start off with a flexible scope relation between the universal quantifier and negation. Children's grammar allows flexibility in the mappings between syntax and semantics.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Lingua, in press.
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