A Bidirectional Study of the Earlier Acquisition of Dative Structures in English and Arabic

Anwar Saad Aljadani


This article conducts a bidirectional investigation of the earlier acquisition of dative structures in English and Arabic by Second Language (L2) learners. It reports on two dative structures: the Prepositional Dative (PD) structure and the Double Object Dative (DOD) structure, rating experiments (grammaticality judgment task) to test which dative structure is preferred earlier by L2 learners and whether L2 learners transfer their preferences relating to the two dative structures in the First Language (L1) to their L2. A total of 50 Arab learners of English and 40 English learners of Arabic were tested for the purpose of this study. It was observed that Arab learners of English preferred the PD structure over the DOD structure, whereas English learners of Arabic showed a slight preference for the use of the DOD structure; however, this observation is statistically insignificant. These findings indicate a lack of L1 influence, as all L2 learners preferred a dative structure that does not correspond to the preferred structure in their L1. Such findings could be consistent with the idea of the language acquisition process, as proposed by the Processability Theory, which implies that constructions that are easiest to process will be learned earlier than those that are harder to process despite the convergences between L1 and L2.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/ijce.v2i1.3967


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International Journal of Contemporary Education

ISSN 2575-3177 (Print)   ISSN 2575-3185 (Online)

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