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


This study aims to investigate the early constructions of the dative alternation produced by four L1 English-speaking children and focuses on how it emerges. The dative verbs such as give can take two alternating constructions: double object constructions (John gave Mary his book) and prepositional dative constructions (John gave his book to Mary). In this study, utterances with a prototypical verb for the dative alternation give, were extracted from the CHILDES database, by means of the kwal command in the Browsable Database. The data were then divided into four types: double object constructions, prepositional dative constructions, constructions missing the direct object (verb-indirect object), and those missing the indirect object (verb-direct object). The data show that the children produce verb-indirect and verb-direct object constructions before they acquire the dative alternation. For example, while Aran’s first production of double object constructions was at 2 years and 6 months (he give me a nana), that of verb-indirect object constructions was at 2 years and 3 months (give that lady). While Adam’s first production of prepositional dative constructions was at 3 years and 11 days (give that to me), that of verb-direct object constructions was at 2 years, 3 months, and 4 days (I may give some). Therefore, this study argues that before children acquire the double object construction or the prepositional dative construction, they first produce its simple version.

Author Information
Nobuyo Fukaya, Niigata Agro-Food University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACL2022
Stream: Language Acquisition

This paper is part of the ACL2022 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Fukaya N. (2022) Early Constructions of the English Dative Alternation: A Corpus-Based Study ISSN: 2435-7030 – The Asian Conference on Language 2022: Official Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2435-7030.2022.3
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2435-7030.2022.3

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon