The developmental pathway of nominal functional categories in early child Mandarin

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Longitudinal data from a monolingual Mandarin-speaking child (1;8.22–2;2.25) is examined focusing on acquisition of nominal functional categories: Determiner Phrase (DP), Number Phrase (NumP) and Classifier Phrase (ClP). Analysis reveals that in the latter two-word stage the functional heads D and Cl – but not Num – within definite nominal expressions are instantiated. Feature compositions of these heads appear to be under-specified – the complement-feature (or its associated grammatical properties) of the head Cl was still lacking during this stage. Mandarin nominal functional categories are thus instantiated incrementally and likewise the grammatical features of the functional heads. The Weak Continuity perspective appears most appropriate to account for these results.


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