Expressing refusals in child Cantonese: A pilot study

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Refusal strategies, Cantonese, preschool children


This paper reports the expression of refusals by young Cantonese-speaking children (N=40, 20 per age group, half boys, half girls) in Hong Kong using oral role-play involving different scenarios. Results showed that Cantonese preschoolers of age 3 and age 5 were able to use strategies such as “No” or “Negated willingness/ability” in their refusals, and older children used more indirect strategies, including the use of reasons or explanations. Further discussion on the use of linguistic devices, and comparison with earlier studies done in other languages will be made at the presentation.

Source Publication

3rd International Conference of the American Pragmatics Association (IPRA), on 4-6 November 2016, at Indiana University, Bloomington

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