Chapter 8. The acquisition of relative clauses in Cantonese and Mandarin
We discuss three typological characteristics relevant to the acquisition of relative clauses (RCs) in Cantonese and Mandarin: (i) the prenominal position of RCs; (ii) the availability of an internally-headed analysis for Cantonese object RCs; and (iii) Chinese RCs as a subset of noun modifying constructions (NMCs). Acquisition studies suggest that Chinese differs from languages with post-nominal RCs, which show a robust advantage for subject-gapped over object-gapped RCs. For Cantonese, some studies suggest an object advantage, which may be explained by the surface identity of object RCs and SVO main clauses and/or the internally-headed analysis. Finally, Chinese RCs can be analyzed as a subset of NMCs in which a modifying clause is attached to the head noun based on semantic-pragmatic relations.