Segmentation and representation of causal chain events in Mandarin Chinese: An empirical case study on child language.

Chenxi Niu

Research output: Contribution to ConferenceAbstractAcademic


When interpreting events, the cognitive process of segmentation defines perceptual units, influencing the encoding and representation of events (Schwan & Garsoffky 2008). This study examines the segmentation and representation of causal chain events in Chinese child language. Thirty 5-year-old1 Chinese children were taken as subjects and were asked to describe the video stimuli. The video stimuli were selected from the animation Tom and Jerry, and involved semantic variables which could affect event perceptions. They are mediation (Bohnemeyer et. al 2011), force dynamics (Talmy 2000), agency (“causer type” in Talmy 2000; Beaver & Zubair 2012), and intentionality (Shepad & Wolff 2013). The major findings are as follows: (1) there are 5 types of morphosyntactic devices to encode causal chains in Chinese, i.e., single clauses headed by single transitive verb, resultative verb construction, periphrastic causative construction, sentential juncture, and non-causative structure; (2) these semantic variables affect the directness of causation in a causal chain event, hence influencing the “compactness” of event representations; (3) driven by causality salience and rich inventory of periphrastic causatives, Chinese children attend more to periphrastic constructions and sentential juncture structures in representing causal chains; evidence from Chinese children also supports the part- whole property of an event (Zacks & Tversky 2001).
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
Event14th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference - University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia
Duration: 10 Jul 201714 Jul 2017


Conference14th International Cognitive Linguistics Conference
Abbreviated titleICLC-14
Internet address


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