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Lexical Aspect and the Use of Negation by Mandarin-Speaking Children
Peng Zhou, Stephen Crain, and Rosalind Thornton
150-156 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


The present study investigated the relationship between lexical aspect and the use of negation by Mandarin-speaking children. In Mandarin Chinese lexical aspect interacts with negation. Mandarin has two primary negation markers, bu and mei (both translated as English not). The two negation markers co-occur with verbs that denote different aspectual relations. Bu occurs with state and activity verbs, but not with accomplishment or achievement verbs, whereas mei occurs with accomplishment, achievement and activity verbs, but not with state verbs. Using a two-choice forced-judgement task, we assessed children's sensitivity to the interaction between lexical aspect and the two negation markers. The results show that children aged 4;7 and older manifested adult-like knowledge of how lexical aspect is conveyed by the two negation markers. Children between 4;0 and 4;5 were less sensitive to this property. Children younger than 4;0 responded at chance.

Published in

Selected Proceedings of the 5th Conference on Generative Approaches to Language Acquisition North America (GALANA 2012)
edited by Chia-Ying Chu, Caitlin E. Coughlin, Beatriz Lopez Prego, Utako Minai, and Annie Tremblay
Table of contents
Printed edition: $320.00