Taiwan Journal of Linguistics

A Diamond Open Access Journal (free to authors and readers)
ISSN: 1729-4649 (print); 1994-2559 (online)


Yupin Chen
This study aims to explore Mandarin-speaking children's uses of the distal demonstrative 'na(ge)' in child-adult conversations. Three types of data were utilized: 4-year-old naturalistic data, 4-year-old and 5-year-old controlled conversations. Five discourse-pragmatic functions of the distal demonstrative were identified: the deictic use, the endophoric use, the connective use, the pause-filler function, and the unidentified use, a peculiar use found in child discourse, which further reveals children's inability to properly manage common ground in discourse. A comparison of the distribution of different functions across the data groups shows that children may have acquired the semantics and some pragmatic functions of the distal demonstrative in early years, but they may not yet fully develop the ability to establish common ground and manage coherence until they are five. Key words: distal demonstrative, common ground, child discourse