The Cantonese double object construction with bei2 'give' in bilingual children: The role of input

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines the role of input in bilingual children's acquisi- tion of the Cantonese double object construction with bei2 'give' from a usage-based perspective (Tomasello, 2003; Lieven & Tomasello, 2008). In this domain of grammar, bilingual Cantonese-English children use the non-target [bei2-Recipient-Theme] order more frequently and for a more protracted duration than their monolingual counterparts (Yip & Matthews, 2007). We make use of corpus data to analyze the quantitative and qualitative aspects of the input that these bilingual children receive, and discuss three input factors to account for such vulnerability in bilingual children. First, the findings substantiate the idea that a bilingual child hearing fewer hours of Cantonese when compared to his or her monolingual age peers is likely to be exposed to fewer tokens of the target construction. Second, the findings indicate that the mapping between word order and thematic roles is not consistent in the Cantonese input, and as such is not conducive to learning for either bilingual or monolingual children. Third, simultaneous experience with the largely invariant [give-Recipient-Theme] forms from the English input overlaps with and therefore entrenches the developmental errors in Cantonese. These three input factors conspire to make this grammatical domain in Cantonese particularly vulnerable in bilingual children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-85
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2010


  • Bilingual acquisition
  • Cantonese double object construction
  • Cross-linguistic influence
  • Input
  • Usage-based linguistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'The Cantonese double object construction with bei2 'give' in bilingual children: The role of input'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this