This paper deals with the acquisition of monoclausal wh-questions in Mandarin Chinese. Several experiments on the acquisition of wh-questions in Cantonese, English, Korean, and Japanese have been reported; however, the studies have yielded different results. In addition, no study of this issue in Mandarin Chinese-has been conducted. Hence, an experiment has been designed to test for the pure syntactic effects of a possible subject/object asymmetry in the relative difficulty of wh-questions in Mandarin Chinese. This experiment focuses on simple wh-questions which are subject wh-questions (e.g., Who is kicking John?) and object wh-questions (e.g., Who is John kicking?), and the crucial issue is whether subject wh-questions are easier to acquire than object wh-questions in Mandarin Chinese and how important is the role of age in the acquisition of wh-questions. The results show that subject wh-questions are much easier for Chinese-speaking children than object wh-questions and younger and older children do not behave differently.
Concentric: Studies in English Literature and Linguistics 29(2), pp.82-117