Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics VIAL

Ainara Imaz Agirre (1). The acquisition of dative alternation in English by Spanish learners: 63-90.


This study investigates the acquisition of double object constructions (DOCs) (Mary gave George a biscuit) by 90 L1 Spanish learners of English as a second language. Its goal is to assess whether: (i) learners showed any difference in evaluating prepositional phrase constructions (PPC) (Mary gave a biscuit to George) as opposed to DOC as well as asymmetries in goal and benefactive verbs, (ii) L2 learners were sensitive to the morphological (i.e. Latinate) and the semantic (i.e. possessor) constraints, (iii) proficiency had any effect on the sensitivity of learners' judgments. Participants from three proficiency levels (elementary, intermediate and advanced) completed two acceptability judgment tasks: an auto-paced reading task and a self-paced reading task. Findings revealed that learners at the lowest proficiency level showed full transfer effects from their L1. However, at higher proficiency levels overgeneralization and negative blocking effects were found, although they decreased with increasing proficiency.

Keywords: dative alternation, double object constructions, EFL, morphological constraint, semantic constraint

(1) Laboratorio de Psicolingüística. Facultad de Letras UPV/EHU, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.

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