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Parental numeric language input to Mandarin Chinese and English speaking preschool children*



The present study examined the number-specific parental language input to Mandarin- and English-speaking preschool-aged children. Mandarin and English transcripts from the CHILDES database were examined for amount of numeric speech, specific types of numeric speech and syntactic frames in which numeric speech appeared. The results showed that Mandarin-speaking parents talked about number more frequently than English-speaking parents. Further, the ways in which parents talked about number terms in the two languages was more supportive of a cardinal interpretation in Mandarin than in English. We discuss these results in terms of their implications for numerical understanding and later mathematical performance.


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Address for correspondence: Alicia Chang, Room 816, Learning Research and Development Center, 3939 O'Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. tel: (412) 624-2679; e-mail:


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We thank the UCLA Language and Cognitive Development Lab and Barbara Sarnecka for helpful advice and comments. Alicia Chang is now at the University of Pittsburgh.



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Parental numeric language input to Mandarin Chinese and English speaking preschool children*



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