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An Empirical Study of Hakka-Speaking Children's Acquisition of Passives
Dr. Chun-yin Doris Chen
Nancy Chia-ying Chang
The present study aims to investigate L1 acquisition of Hakka passives to see if the six properties played roles in the development, i.e., No Truncation, Syntactic Complexity, the Resumptive Pronoun, Adversity, Animacy/Inanimacy, and Verbal Transitivity. The examined issues of the research were property effects, difficulties of sub properties, task effects, other elicited patterns, and age effects. To approximate a speaker’s inner knowledge of Hakka passives, this study adopted a comprehension task (a picture selection task, PS Task), and a production task (a picture-cued production task, PP Task). The subjects of this study consisted of an experimental group (60 Hakka-speaking children) and a control group (15 adults). The children were further divided into four groups according to their mean age ranged from 4 to 7. The overall results indicated that major properties, sub properties, tasks, and age, were all determinant factors in the acquisition of Hakka passives. From the young subjects’ performances on the six major properties, a hierarchical sequence of L1 acquisition of Hakka passives was found: Animacy/Inanimacy = Adversity > Verbal Transitivity = No Truncation = Syntactic Complexity > Resumptive Pronoun. The hierarchy suggested a tendency that semantic concepts, i.e., Animacy/Inanimacy, Adversity, and Verbal Transitivity, were less challenging than syntactic properties, such as No Truncation, Syntactic Complexity, and Resumptive Pronoun. The semantic-syntax dissimilarity was also revealed when detecting each sub property. Concerning the task effects, the children performed much better on the comprehension task than on the production task. Furthermore, six main types were found in the subjects’ production data: no-elicitation, key words, active expressions, passive expressions, code-switching, and ungrammatical responses. Three stages were defined to account for the developmental trend of each age group. Finally, it was found that the seven-year-olds had reached the adult level both in perception and in production. Given the developmental order, the study was attempted to dedicate to the teaching of the Hakka dialect.
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