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Ditransitive Constructions in English and Croatian


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Marinović, Vedrana. (2013). Ditransitive Constructions in English and Croatian. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Zovko Dinković, Irena].

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Our claim was that ditransitive constructions and dative alternation are best explained by Cognitive Grammar since it claims that grammar is the solution that speakers have found to structure their thoughts in order to communicate them to other people. As products of speakers, the words and grammatical structures they use reflect their physical, psychological and social experiences. Our primary concern was with the phenomenon of dative alternation in English and we believe that the results of the research on native speakers of English and Croatian students of English support our claim. The answers the participants provided show that their experiences truly influence their choice of construction, i.e. that the way in which we perceive the world around us determines the language we use. Since English allows dative alternation with some 30 verbs, it is fairly common in language use which is why it was easier to test the English speaking participants. Croatian, on the other hand, allows dative alternation with only 3 verbs (8 if we count their aspectual counterparts) and the alternated construction is not as common in use as the canonical one. Moreover, the alternated construction in Croatian is subject to many semantic and pragmatic constraints (due to some inherent meanings of the verbs that allow it), which is why its use is often associated with more formal style (this was also recognized by the Croatian speaking participants who described the alternated construction as stylistically marked or pertaining to more formal situations). When it comes to dative alternation in Croatian, many of the findings by Zovko Dinković (2007) were confirmed by our research, too. However, since there is a time period of some six years between her work and ours (twelve, if we take into account her work from 2001), we showed that some of the speakers’ perception on dative alternation has changed. In our opinion, the most interesting example of that change is the use of the verb donirati (to donate) in the alternated construction. Although donirati is not one of the Croatian verbs that allow dative alternation, we found that the speakers do not dismiss the use of the verb itself in the alternated construction. It would be interesting to do some further research on this issue since it appears that the verb donirati (to donate) is becoming acceptable in the alternated construction, too. Since dative alternation in English has already been dealt with from the point of view of Cognitive Grammar, it would be useful to do some more research in this vein on the issue of dative alternation in Croatian, since the phenomenon is rare in any case-marking language, including Croatian.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Zovko Dinković, Irena
Date Deposited: 11 Jul 2014 09:32
Last Modified: 11 Jul 2014 09:32

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