Can focus salvage the double accusative ditranstive construction in Korean? An experimental investigation

Eunkyung Yi, Sang Hee Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Dative alternation in Korean refers to the variation in case on the recipient argument, which gives rise to the canonical ditransitive construction Joan-iNOM Matt-eykeyDAT chayk-ulACC cwu-essPAST-taDECL and the double accusative ditransitive construction Joan-iNOM Matt-ulACC chayk-ulACC cwu-essPAST-taDECL‘Joan gave Matt a book.’ Although often regarded as alternate constructional choices, the two ditransitive variants are known to exhibit huge imbalance in their frequencies of occurrence and speakers’ acceptance of the constructions (Lee 2018; Park and Yi 2021). In this context, we explored the effects of focus on the perception and production of the double accusative ditransitive construction given the fact that the accusative marker -(l)ul can also encode focus. In two acceptability judgment experiments, we investigated whether focus improves speakers’ acceptance of the double accusative ditransitive construction, using written stimuli that vary in focus type, i.e., new information, corrective, parallel and mirative focus (Experiments 1 & 2). In addition, we conducted a verbal production experiment to investigate whether linguistic cues for focus, i.e., wh-questions, can elicit more answers in the double accusative ditransitive construction (Experiment 3). A post-experimental survey was also conducted to examine participants’ opinions about the construction. The results showed new information focus in particular improves the perception and production of the double accusative ditransitive construction, but only to a small degree. We discussed the implications of the results in the context of previous theoretical proposals and psycholinguistic findings such as skewed frequency effects, grammaticality illusion, constructional coercion, acceptability-comprehensibility distinction, good-enough processing, etc. and suggested directions for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-274
Number of pages40
JournalLinguistic Research
Volume39
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2022

Keywords

  • acceptability judgment
  • case marking
  • Ditransitive
  • double accusative
  • focus
  • Korean
  • production

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