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Title:Predicting the Dative Alternation
Authors:Joan Bresnan
Comment:co-authored by Joan Bresnan, Anna Cueni, Tatiana Nikitina, R. Harald Baayen
Abstract:In this essay on the dative alternation we show that linguistic data
are more probabilistic than has been recognized in theoretical syntax
and that persistent questions about corpus syntactic studies of usage
data can be addressed empirically by using modern statistical theory
and modeling strategies. We develop a probabilistic model that can
predict the choice of dative structures in spontaneous telephone
conversations with 94% accuracy. We use the model to show that along
with formal syntactic and semantic properties, animacy and discourse
accessibility have an irreducible effect on dative syntax across
written and spoken modalities, across verb senses, and across
speakers, in the familiar pattern of harmonic alignment.

Type:Paper/tech report
Article:Version 1