Early Child Cantonese: Facts and Implications

Tse, S.K.


De Gruyter Mouton

ISBN: 9783110240047, 3110240041

Chinese is often considered very difficult to team by Western language users. Typically, Western language users are puzzled by the ideographic Chinese characters and Chinese grammar due to the significantly different characteristics of Chinese from some common Western languages such as Spanish, French, and English. This perplexity with Chinese further deepens when the written form of Chinese is taken into consideration- the written form varies across dialects such as Cantonese and Mandarin. Nevertheless, these characteristics have inspired Western scholars to learn and investigate effective approaches to learning Chinese.


To acquire Chinese, it is important to grasp the most basic language elements first. Therefore, it is inevitable to explore child language as reflected in the present study. In addition, the time between ages three and six is considered to be an important period of language development. During this period, children rapidly acquire their native language and develop their mental and physical capacity. Notably a delay in language development in the preschool years would result in the postponement of the acquisition of knowledge and communicative skills, making it difficult for follow-up education to remedy such a loss. Hence, language development in children is always an important topic in the field of psycholinguistics.

Chapter 1 
1.1    Cantonese as a major Chinese dialect
1.2    Reasons for studying early childhood Cantonese
1.3    Research data and method
1.4    Organization of the book


Chapter 2 
Cantonese lexical development in the early years
2.1    Lexical categories in Cantonese
2.2    Early child lexical development: Repertoire, norms, and trends
2.3    Noun bias versus verb bias
2.4    Cantonese classifiers
2.5    Conclusion and implications

Chapter 3 
Syntactic development in the early years
3.1    Indicators of syntactic development
3.2    Syntactic development in the early years
3.3    Gender and age differences in syntactical development
3.4    Conclusion and implication

Chapter 4 
Interrogative development in the early years
4.1    Interrogative forms in the early childhood Cantonese
4.2    Interrogative functions in early childhood Cantonese
4.3    Conclusion and implications

Chapter 5 
Cognitive development in the early years: The case of temporal words
5.1    Forms of early Cantonese temporal words
5.2    Development of early Cantonese temporal words
5.3    Discussion, conclusion, and implications

Chapter 6 
General conclusion and implications
6.1    General conclusions
6.2    General discussion
6.3    Limitation of the study
6.4    Implications

Appendix I 
Jyutping: The Cantonese Romanization system proposed by the Linguistic Society of Hong Kong

Appendix II 
Early vocabulary inventory for Cantonese Chinese