The development of aspectual marking in Cantonese-English bilingual children

Pei Sui Zoe LUK, Yasuhiro SHIRAI

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5 Citations (Scopus)


The present study investigates whether the tense-aspect development of Cantonese-English bilingual children conforms to the Aspect Hypothesis (Andersen and Shirai 1994. Discourse motivations for some cognitive acquisition principles. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 16(2). 133–156.), which has been shown to predict the development of monolingual children of many different languages well, and whether the two languages influence each other during development. Analysis of longitudinal production data from three Cantonese-English bilinguals (Yip and Matthews 2000. Syntactic transfer in a Cantonese-English bilingual child. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition 3(3). 193–208.) shows that the development of bilingual children resemble that of monolingual children and generally follow the Aspect Hypothesis, but to a lesser degree. Interactions were also observed in that the acquisition of the Cantonese progressive marker gan was accelerated by the -ing in the bilingual children, and transfer from Cantonese to English allowed them to use the English past tense marking with verbs of different lexical aspect early in their development, deviating from the prediction of the Aspect Hypothesis. Copyright © 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-179
JournalInternational Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching
Issue number2
Early online dateAug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Luk, Z. P.-S., & Shiral, Y. (2018). The development of aspectual marking in Cantonese-English bilingual children. International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 56(2), 137-179. doi: 10.1515/iral-2014-0018


  • Aspect Hypothesis
  • Bilingualism
  • Imperfective markers
  • Interdependence hypothesis
  • Perfective markers


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