The Productive Vocabulary Development in the Written Chinese of the Hong Kong Cantonese-speaking Children

Emily Yee Man Cheung


This paper reports a longitudinal investigation into the productive vocabulary development in the written Chinese of the Cantonese-speaking elementary children in Hong Kong. Data gathering took place using two vocabulary tests which selected prescriptive vocabulary from the textbooks and the 2007 Vocabulary List. The two assessment tests also included vocabulary from the two classes of words in Chinese, namely, the content and the function words. Data were collected in a senior elementary class in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The phonological, orthographical, syntactic and semantic dimensions of the children’s productive vocabulary knowledge in both year four and year five were examined. The longitudinal data of these four linguistic dimensions were scored under respective conditions. The results indicate that the syntactic dimension of the function words is the weakest aspect in vocabulary growth. This may suggest that the syntactic acquisition of the function words seems to take a longer time. Furthermore, two relatively independent aspects of vocabulary knowledge, namely, the phonological-orthographical and the syntactic-semantic, emerge in the vocabulary development.

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International Education Studies ISSN 1913-9020 (Print), ISSN 1913-9039 (Online)

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