Volume 40, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
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English datives show two syntactic patterns, the double object dative (DOD) and the prepositional dative (PD). The alternation between DOD and PD is influenced by three contextual factors: lexical verbs, syntactic weights, and information structures. However, it has been observed that English dative alternation by second language (L2) learners significantly deviates from the native norm. Accordingly, this study examines whether the three factors are influential when L2 learners produce dative sentences, by analyzing a learner corpus and a native speaker corpus. Results show that the learners produced PD significantly more frequently than the native speakers did. Even when DOD should be contextually preferred, the learners produced many PD sentences. These results suggest that L2 learners have trouble noticing the contextual factors when structuring English datives. The finding is further discussed as it relates to the major tenets of L2 acquisition such as cross-linguistic transfer, constructional knowledge, and language processing.


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