An aspectual account of ba and bei constructions in child Mandarin
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AbstractThis study examines the ba and bei constructions in Mandarin using data from the Tong corpus, a new multimedia longitudinal child language corpus. A unified aspectual account of the two constructions is proposed: both require telic predicates, and should thus correlate with the perfective rather than imperfective aspect for learners. Analysis of corpus and diary data reveals that Tong is generally sensitive to the telic requirement when he begins to use the two constructions around 2;0. His ba and bei sentences occur far more frequently in perfective than imperfective aspect, consistent with the Aspect Hypothesis. However, while the majority of the child’s bei passives are perfective, the majority of his ba sentences are produced without overt aspect markers, among which most are irrealis (imperatives, modal sentences, etc.). The difference mirrors the pattern in adult input. These findings are corroborated by additional child Mandarin corpora. The acquisition of the aspectual properties of the ba and bei constructions is influenced by inherent knowledge, input and language-specific features of Mandarin, consistent with the multi-factorial account proposed by earlier studies.
All Author(s) ListXiangjun Deng, Ziyin Mai, Virginia Yip
Journal nameFirst Language
Year2018
Month6
Volume Number38
Issue Number3
Pages243 - 262
ISSN0142-7237
LanguagesEnglish-United States
KeywordsAspect Hypothesis, ba, bei, child Mandarin, telicity, perfectivity, modality

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