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Research on the Teaching of Ditransitive Construction in Senior Middle School in the Perspective of Construction Grammar

Author: ZhouZuo
Tutor: XiaoKunXue
School: Guangzhou University
Course: Subject Teaching
Keywords: ditransitive consgtruction prototype category family resemblances grammar teaching
CLC: G633.41
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2011
Downloads: 20
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Abstract


Ditransitive construction is a very common phenomenon in languages and has drawn intellectual pursuit from different schools of linguists. It is a three-place argument pattern with a verb followed by two noun phrases. With its syntactic property of NP V NP1 NP2, ditransitive construction is one of the most productive constructions in English. It typically implies that the agent argument acts volitionally to cause transfer of an object to the willing recipient. According to construction grammar, the syntax and semantics of the ditransitive construction cannot be predicted from other constructions existing in the grammar and thus is viewed as an independent argument structure construction.The ditransitive form is associated with a set of systematically related senses and can be viewed as a case of constructional polysemy: the same form is paired with different but related senses. The semantics of ditransitive construction involves six senses which are (1) actual successful transfer, (2) obligation of transfer, (3) intention of transfer, (4) enablement of transfer, (5) future transfer and (6) negation of transfer.Polysemy is a pervasive phenomenon in human languages. It meets the economical need of language. Meaning extension is due to human categorization and conceptualization. Categorization refers to the psychological process that human classify the world, and conceptualization is based on categorization.Generally speaking, there are two representative theories of categorization classical theory and prototype theory, which are essentially different in position. As a breakthrough of classical theory, Wittgenstein’s notion of family resemblances in the analysis of the semantic category "Spiel" (game) contributes to the establishment of prototype theory.In the perspectives of the theory of prototype category and the principle of family resemblances, we can view the polysemous ditransitive construction as a prototype category with the sense of actual successful transfer as its prototype. The other five meanings of the construction are extended from and related with the prototype through family resemblances.This thesis discusses the polysemous network under the framework of the principle of family resemblance in prototype theory. The central sense of the ditransitive construction is the best example, the most prominent and the most representative member of the construction category. There are some semantic properties of the construction, in its prototypical instantiations. The other five meanings of the construction exhibit some kinds of deviation, some minimal, others more extensive, from the central semantic properties of the construction and form the non-central, not-typical members of the construction category. The prototype of the category serves as a cognitive reference point in identifying other members in the category.From the analysis of the ditransitive construction as a construction category, this thesis puts forward some suggestions for the teaching of the ditransitive construction in high school under the guidance of the construction grammar and prototype theory.In order to put this teaching method suggested by the author into practice and examine its real effect, the author of this thesis administered a comparative empirical study in an ordinary high school. The experiment lasted for three months with different teaching methods in the experimental group and control group. After the experiment, a test was administered. All the data was carefully collected and analyzed. The data analysis of the test shows that the experimental group and the control group had significant difference after the experiment, which suggests that the teaching on the basis of relevant cognitive theories is effective in improving the students’understanding and using of the ditransitive construction.This research tentatively applies the relevant cognitive theory on the understanding and teaching of the English ditransitive construction. It is hoped that it can provide a new way of thinking in improving the grammar teaching of English.

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