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An Interdisciplinary Journal of the Language Sciences

Editor-in-Chief: Gast, Volker

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Local pronouns in ditransitive scenarios: Corpus perspectives from English and Polish

Anna Siewierska
Published Online: 2013-08-31 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2013-0043


While there is no doubt that the Rs (recipients) of ditransitive clauses are much more likely to be rendered by LPs (local persons) than Ts (themes), as reflected in the Person Role Constraint (see e.g., Perlmutter 1971; Bonet 1991, 1995; Haspelmath 2004), this paper sets out to determine whether the preference for LP Rs holds only relative to Ts or is in fact an absolute preference, i.e., a general property of Rs in ditransitive clauses. The investigation is based on a consideration of corpus data from two languages, English and Polish, both of which have a rich array of ditransitive predicates and together cover a good range of ditransitive constructions differing in degrees of grammaticalization. The investigation reveals that distribution of LPs is strongly affected by the degree of grammaticalization of a ditransitive construction and the encoding of the person forms, the levels of LP Rs and the frequency effects of the Person Role Constraint being strongest in double object constructions (DOC), less strong in the dative-accusative construction (DAC) and weakest in the prepositional construction (Prep-Cs), as shown in the cline: DOC > DAC > Prep-C. Significant differences are also noted in the distribution of LPs between different classes of ditransitive predicates, the highest level of LP Rs being with communicated message predicates and the lowest with ballistic and accompanying motion predicates.

Keywords: ditransitive constructions; pronouns; person hierarchy; contrastive corpus analysis

About the article

Published Online: 2013-08-31

Published in Print: 2013-08-27

Citation Information: Linguistics, Volume 51, Issue Jubilee, Pages 25–60, ISSN (Online) 1613-396X, ISSN (Print) 0024-3949, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ling-2013-0043.

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©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston. This content is open access.

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