An acceptability study of triadic constructions in Hong Kong Cantonese

Angel Man-Shan TONG, Kwing Lok Albert LEE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review


This paper investigates age-graded variation in the use of the Inverted Double Object Construction (IDOC) in Hong Kong Cantonese. IDOC is unique because it is currently only attested in Cantonese, not in Mandarin or English, and its grammaticality is determined by prosodic factors rather than purely syntactic ones; however, its use is now declining. We conducted a web-based acceptability task using audio stimuli that contrasted different types of direct objects (DO) and indirect objects (IO), and the presence or absence of a pause between DO and IO. The effect of age was also analysed. Participants were asked to rate test sentences produced with neutral focus intonation on a Likert scale. Our results showed that the acceptability of IDOC was determined by (i) the prosodic weight of IO; (ii) the relative prominence of DO and IO; (iii) the presence of a pause; and (iv) listeners’ age. Copyright © 2024 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103749
Early online dateJun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Jun 2024


Tong, A. M.-S., & Lee, A. (2024). An acceptability study of triadic constructions in Hong Kong Cantonese. Lingua, 307, Article 103749.


  • Triadic construction
  • Cantonese
  • Prosody
  • Relative prominence
  • Age-graded variation
  • Prosodic syntax


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