Early Constructions of the English Dative Alternation: A Corpus-based Study

Conference: The Asian Conference on Language (ACL2022)
Title: Early Constructions of the English Dative Alternation: A Corpus-based Study
Stream: Language Acquisition
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Nobuyo Fukaya, Niigata Agro-Food University, Japan


This study investigates the dative alternation produced by four young English-speaking children and explores how it is developed. The dative alternation refers to the one between the double object construction (DOC) and the prepositional dative construction (PDC), as in below:
DOC: Give me my thing. (Adam, 4 years and 10 months)
PDC: Give my thing to me.
In this study, utterances with a prototypical verb of the dative alternation, ‘give’, were extracted from the CHILDES database, by means of a command KWAL in the Browsable Database. Then, the data were divided into four groups: DOC, PDC, verb-indirect object (V-IO), and verb-direct object (V-DO). The data show that children produced V-IO and V-DO before DOC and PDC. For example, the first occurrence of DOC produced by Aran was at 2 years and 6 months (he give me a nana), and that of V-IO was at 2 years and 3 months (give that lady). The first appearance of PDC produced by Adam was at 2 years and 11 months (give that to me), while that of V-DO was at 2 years and 3 months (I may give some). The dative alternation (DOC and PDC) is complex, since both involve three arguments: the agent, the theme, and the recipient. The fact that the dative alternation emerges later than V-IO and V-DO illustrates that the development of the dative alternation would be attributed to the establishment of Tomasello’s joint attentional frames.

Conference Comments & Feedback

Place a comment using your LinkedIn profile


Share on activity feed

Powered by WP LinkPress

Share this Presentation