Graduation Year


Graduation Month


Document Type

Professional Paper - Campus Access Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

School or Department

Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures


Communicative Sciences and Disorders

Faculty Mentor Department

Modern and Classical Languages

Faculty Mentor

Pablo E. Requena, Ph. D.

Faculty Reader(s)

Pablo E. Requena, Ph. D.


differential object marking, Spanish, Argentine, animacy, definiteness

Subject Categories

Spanish Linguistics


Abstract. Variation is ubiquitous to language. For example, Spanish marks animate and specific direct objects (DO) with “a” (as in: Vi a un niño ‘I saw a boy’ vs. Vi un carro ‘I saw a car’), a phenomenon known as Differential Object Marking (DOM). DOM has been shown to be probabilistically constrained by a number of linguistic factors in the speech of Spanish-speaking adults. The only studies on first language acquisition of DOM to date, however, have concentrated only on contexts considered categorical (i.e., using “a” where it is ‘required’ and zero marking where DOM is ‘prohibited’) and their results are commonly used to suggest very early and errorless acquisition of DOM, albeit in categorical contexts. This study investigates how a monolingual Spanish-speaking child begins to use DOM including –and specifically- in contexts where it is probabilistically conditioned. All utterances containing transitive verbs were manually extracted from the Remedi longitudinal corpus of a monolingual Argentine child Spanish (Remedi et al. submitted), available in the online Child Language Data Exchange System (CHILDES) database. The corpus contains 14 transcripts of naturalistic conversation between a child aged 1;10-2;11 and her father. Data were further coded for a number of predictor variables known to impact DOM use (such as presence of clitic doubling, DO animacy, DO definiteness, DO specificity). Preliminary analyses revealed that DOM use by both the child and caregiver does not follow categorical rules predicted by some linguistic analyses (Aissen 2003), revealing a number of datapoints not considered in past research. Analysis of all tokens produced by the child indicates that children may be acquiring DOM in a piecemeal fashion.

Honors College Research Project


GLI Capstone Project




© Copyright 2019 Laura Cornelisse and Pablo E. Requena