Expressing motion events by Cantonese-speaking children in video narratives

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Telling stories and making a narration of events are common communicative acts of children. Two major questions in expressing motion events have attracted much discussion in the literature: (a) how does a child encode a motion event (developmental issue)? and (b) how much of this is affected by the specific properties of the native language (typological effect on acquisition)? There has been a debate in discussing the lexicalization of patterns in Chinese: whether Chinese is a verb-framed language, a satellite-framed language or an equipollent language. Despite a large number of studies on how children encode motion events in English, Spanish and other western languages providing evidence on the relationship between language typology and language development, research on Chinese children’s expression of motion events is under-represented. Using data collected from video clips, this paper examines how Cantonese-speaking children of ages three and five encode motion events in narratives, and explores how such findings shed light on the issue of Chinese in the debate of lexicalization typology and language development. Our results show that children were sensitive to the specific properties of Cantonese Chinese at a young age, and the lexicalization pattern of Cantonese is closer to the equipollent patterns than the other patterns.

Source Publication

Child Language Seminar, 2013 Jun 24-25, University of Manchester,Manchester, UK

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