Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

E-mail this page 1

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Dissertation Information

Title: The Acquisition of English and Spanish Dative Alternation Structures in the Longitudinal Spantaneous Production of Monolingual and Bilingual Children Add Dissertation
Author: Silvia Sánchez Calderón Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://
Completed in: 2018
Linguistic Subfield(s): Applied Linguistics; General Linguistics; Linguistic Theories; Syntax; Language Acquisition; Discipline of Linguistics;
Director(s): Raquel Fernández Fuertes

Abstract: The ongoing debate in the domain of dative alternation (DA) revolves around the syntactic derivational relationship (or lack thereof) between prepositional and double object constructions (DOCs) in English (i.e. to/for-datives and DOCs) and in Spanish (i.e. a/para-datives and dative-clitic doubled (DCLD) structures). In English, the debate has centered on the derivation of DOCs from to/for-datives(e.g. Czepluch 1982; Haspelmath 2006; Larson 2014, 1990, 1988) or to/for-datives from DOCs instead (e.g. Aoun and Li 1989; Dryer 1986; Koizumi 1994). In Spanish, a/para-datives are analyzed as the source structure of DCLDs (e.g. Bruhn de Garavito 2000; Demonte 1995, 1994; Kempchinsky 2004). Non-derivational approaches have proposed that DA constructions stem from two different structures (e.g. Marantz 1993; Mulder 1992 in English; Cuervo 2003a, 2003b in Spanish) or establish a common underlying configuration (e.g. Snyder and Stromswold 1997; Snyder 2001, 1995). Yet, prepositional structures are also argued to be subject to additional syntactic and semantic requirements that double object constructions are not (e.g. Larson 1990, 1988; Marantz 1984; Snyder and Stromswold 1997). Semantically, there is also a debate in the literature as to whether the two DA structures share a similar theta role distribution (Baker 1988) or whether they denote a semantic difference (e.g. Colleman 2010; Colleman and De Clerk 2011 in English; Demonte 1994; Romero Morales 2008 in Spanish).

Monolingual (L1) and bilingual (2L1) acquisition works on English and Spanish DA are rather scarce and there is no consensus in the findings reported. While some L1 English studies (e.g. Bowerman 1990; Campbell and Tomasello 2001) and 2L1 English studies (e.g. Gu 2010) point to the later emergence of to/for-datives, other L1 English works (e.g. Snyder and Stromswold 1997) report a similar emergence for English DA structures. In Spanish, only the study conducted by Torrens and Wexler (2000) reports the early onset of DCLDs from the initial L1 acquisition stages.

Data analyses show that prepositional and double object constructions emerge at an approximately similar age in English and in Spanish alike, as analyzed in the L1 children’s data and in each of the 2L1 English/Spanish children’s two languages. Biological gender differences are not seen in the two language groups either. These data point to the syntactic non-derivational relationship (e.g. Marantz 1993; Mulder 1992; Snyder and Stromswold 1997; Snyder 2001, 1995; in English; Cuervo 2003a, 2003b in Spanish) and to the semantic analogy (Baker 1988) between DA constructions in English and in Spanish. Although the two DA constructions mature at a similar age, prepositional structures show a later onset and a lower incidence through language development when compared to double object constructions, as equally seen in the L1 and in the 2L1 children’s data in each language. These findings might be related to the additional properties required in the production of English to/for-datives and Spanish a/para-datives and/or the role played by adult input in child output. Similar results appear when comparing across English and Spanish in the case of the production of both the two L1 groups and the 2L1 children. Thus, as per the acquisition pattern, the properties that characterize double object and prepositional constructions indicate a cross-linguistic parallelism in English and Spanish and the amount of exposure to these constructions could also have played a similar role in the children’s output across the two languages.