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Title:Grammatical productivity in Mandarin resultative verb compounds
Author(s):Hsu, Ning
Director of Research:Rispoli, Matthew
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Rispoli, Matthew
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Fisher, Cynthia; Hadley, Pamela; Johnson, Cynthia; Packard, Jerome
Department / Program:Speech & Hearing Science
Discipline:Speech & Hearing Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Abstract:The dissertation investigated the acquisition of Mandarin Resultative Verb Compounds (RVCs) as a window into the development of grammatical productivity. The project combined exploration of observational data, language elicitation/priming tasks with real words, and novel word learning/testing tasks, and led to a comprehensive view of how different levels of grammatical productivity related to one another. The project also established the association between children’s grammatical productivity demonstrated using real words compared to novel lexical items. Furthermore, the project successfully teased apart the contributions of children’s lexical and syntactic knowledge to the grammatical productivity demonstrated in novel word production tasks. Overall, findings of the dissertation served to clarify the relationship between grammatical productivity and the abstract knowledge of language. Research techniques used in the project also provided clinical implications for assessing grammatical development in early childhood. The dissertation included two studies. Study 1 was a corpus exploration that documented the spontaneous uses of RVCs, RVC infixation, and the pivotal construction of Mandarin- speaking parents and children in naturalistic conversations. Findings of Study 1 established developmental expectations for when and how frequently children should be expected to produce RVCs, RVC infixation, and the pivotal construction from age one to three. Study 2 was an experimental study designed to establish the association between children’s ability to produce grammatical constructions using real words compared to novel words. The study included language elicitation/priming tasks, novel word learning/testing tasks, and a standardized vocabulary test. The design made it possible to identify the unique contributions of children’s lexical and syntactic knowledge to their ability to produce grammatical constructions using novel words. Findings of Study 2 showed that, after controlling for age and the general syntactic knowledge, children’s vocabulary knowledge uniquely accounted for 17% to 18% of the variance in their performance of producing RVCs using novel words. The strength of their RVC representation, on the other hand, explained an additional 7% to 11% of the variance. Furthermore, the data indicated that children’s syntactic knowledge of the target grammatical construction was necessary, but not sufficient, for the success in the novel word production tasks. Among children with strong syntactic representations, their performance varied with vocabulary abilities. Although novel word production tasks are considered the strongest evidence of grammatical productivity, they may underestimate the syntactic knowledge children have.
Issue Date:2017-06-05
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Ning Hsu
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-29
Date Deposited:2017-08

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