Children's production of head-final relative clauses: The case of Mandarin

Shenai Hu, Anna Gavarró, Maria Teresa Guasti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015 Cambridge University Press. We explored the acquisition of relative clauses in Mandarin Chinese, a subject-verb-object language with head-final relatives. One hundred and twenty-five children (aged 3 years to 8 years, 11 months) and 20 adults participated in an elicitation task. The results revealed a subject advantage at all ages and a large production of relative clauses with resumptive noun phrases (NPs) across age groups. To further explore the latter finding, we carried out a grammaticality judgment study with 80 adults. We found that relative clauses with resumptive NPs are acceptable in the spoken language for many adult native speakers of Mandarin. This result is at odds with Chinese prescriptive grammar. We propose an analysis of the subject advantage based on the structure intervention expressed as relativized minimality and argue that resumptive NPs are an option in Mandarin relative clauses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-346
JournalApplied Psycholinguistics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Feb 2015


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