Lai and qu in early child speechJul. 17,2019
Lai (来,come) and qu (去,go) denote opposite moving directions with regard to the speaker, thus forming a deictic contrast. Through the analysis of the early child use of lai and qu this paper explores the children's understanding of the deictic meaning. It also intends to offer a solution to the controversial issue on the acquisition sequence of lai and qu. We looked into the natural data of a Mandarin-speaking child (0;10-2;0). It is found that the child distinguishes the two verbs in terms of their deictic meaning before age 2. Besides, an asymmetry between lai and qu in terms of the constructions in which they appear has been noticed. This suggests that the deictic function alone cannot determine the acquisition sequence. Our study implies that adult input, cognitive and pragmatic factors also play important roles in the learning of deictic verbs.
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