Headacts in Cantonese request realizations: evidence in the late stage of language acquisition

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Cantonese, Head acts, Pragmatic development, Request, Speech acts




The study investigated the Cantonese request realizations of six year old and ten year old children. Head act, which is the minimum unit of request realizations, was selected as the research focus. The distributions and the differences of the head acts in the two age groups were explored. Twenty participants were recruited in the study. An equal number of boys and girls participated, in each age group. A sequenced cartoon request elicitation task (SCaRET) was developed to sample the request productions. Different levels of social variables including power, social distance and rank of imposition were assigned in the cartoons. The sampled request realizations were analyzed according to Cross Cultural Request Realization Project (CCSARP) procedures. Results indicated that Cantonese-speaking children had a high preferential use of query preparatory requests, and avoided the use of three direct strategies—performative, hedge performative and locution derivable requests. Possible reasons for the phenomenon were explained, and future research directions were explored.

Source Publication

The 1st Annual International Conference on Language, Literature & Linguistics, 2012 Jul 9-10, Singapore. Proceedings

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