The Acquisition of the English Locative Alternation by Kuwaiti EFL Learners

Abdullah M. Alotaibi


This study attempts to test whether 100 advanced Kuwaiti EFL learners have acquired the English locative alternation. A Grammaticality Judgment Task (GJT) was used to examine whether the participants have the ability to make a distinction between verbs that alternate between the figure-object frame and the ground-object frame and those verbs that do not. The researcher selected the verbs on the basis of Pinker’s (1989) classification of alternating vs. non-alternating English locative verbs. The results show that the participants’ performance on the alternating verbs was better than that on the non-alternating ones. They also reveal that negative transfer of the argument structure of the verbs from the participants’ first language into English contributed to their erroneous answers on the test. Additionally, it has been argued that positive transfer from L1 also played a major role in the participants’ correct answers on the test. The study concludes with some recommendations for further research.



Locative alternation, argument structure, syntax, theta roles, second language acquisition, Kuwaiti EFL learners

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