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Academic Paper

Title: Empirical Evidence for Prototypes in Linguistic Categorization Revealed in Mandarin Numeral Classifiers
Author: Meiyun Chang-Smith
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Linguistic Field: Applied Linguistics; Cognitive Science
Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin
Abstract: The present study adopts an empirical approach to the identification of prototypes and associated prototype effects in linguistic categories evidenced in Mandarin noun classification. For this purpose, a production test was used to test a range of linguistic categories associated with Mandarin numeral classifiers on two groups of native Mandarin speakers, a Brisbane group and a Taipei group. The subjects were asked to provide five nouns associated with each classifier tested, and the results were analyzed for frequency of production and order of production within the response sequence. The results of the production test show clear patterns that the subjects have a strong preference to give certain responses both more frequently and earlier in their response sequence, with these two measures being strongly correlated. The results from the two groups were found to be consistent with each other. We conclude that it is possible and meaningful to use an empirical methodology such as a production test to identify prototypes and associated prototype effects in linguistic categorization revealed by Chinese numeral classifiers.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Publication Info: Journal of the Chinese Language Teachers Association 35:2, 19-52.
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