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Acquiring Double Object Verbs in Mandarin Chinese
The present study aims to investigate Chinese children's acquisition of double object verbs with gei. These verbs were classified into three types, gei-required, gei-forbidden, and gei-optional. The following issues were examined, i.e. the difficulty levels, unmarked/marked patterns, and development of untargeted patterns. Two tasks were employed, a grammaticality task and a sentence elicitation task. Forty-five children aged from three to five and fifteen adults participated in the experiment, who were further divided into four groups. i.e. Group 1 (three-year-olds), Group 2 (four-year-olds), Group 3 (five-year-olds), and Group 4 (native controls). The results are as follows: First, among the three types, gei-forbidden verbs posed the most difficulty for the children, while the other two were relatively easier. Second, with regard to gei-required verbs, [V-DO-gei-IO] was the unmarked pattern while [V-gei-IO-DO] was marked. Similarly, for gei-optional verbs, the most unmarked pattern was [V-DO-gei-IO], followed by [V-IO-DO], and [V-gei-IO-DO] the most marked. Third, a steady development was found in the children's untargeted sentences. The children began with mono-transitive use of these verbs, then added a second object, and finally generated more complex sentences.
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