Two studies are presented that investigate the effect of linguistic cues on Mandarin speakers' comprehension of transitive constructions. Study 1 investigated Mandarin-speaking 2- to 4-year-olds' and adults' comprehension of the SVO (Subject-verb-object) construction, ba-construction (SbaOV), and subjectless ba-construction ((S)baOV) with novel verbs using the forced choice pointing paradigm (FCPP). Study 2 investigated another group of participants with similar ages' comprehension of the SVO construction, the ba-construction, the long and short passive constructions with novel verbs and FCPP. Although these constructions have differing cue strengths, participants in the same age groups comprehended these construction types equally well. The results suggest that children as young as two attended to the case markers of ba and bei, allowing them to employ abstract syntactic representations in comprehending Mandarin transitive constructions. The findings demonstrate that children are sensitive early on to the structural information encoded in the constructions.
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