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Accessible Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton 2020

1. How do ditransitives change?

Chiara Fedriani and Maria Napoli


This chapter offers a descriptive and theoretical account of ditransitives and reassesses the contribution of diachronic research to their analysis and understanding. It opens with some introductory remarks about the syntactic and semantic status of ditransitives from a functional-typological perspective. Then, it provides an updated state of the art on the relevant literature on the topic, showing that scholarship has thus far predominantly dealt with ditransitives from a synchronic viewpoint. However, given that one of the characteristic traits of ditransitive verbs and constructions is precisely their high degree of synchronic variation in terms of structural alternation and alignment split, the diachronic approach can shed light on distinct routes of evolution followed by these verbs across languages. The present chapter focuses on the main developmental pathways along which ditransitives change; it examines which factors play a role in determining the emergence or decay of competing ditransitive constructions, as well as the rise of new meanings and functions; finally, it discusses the general principles that seem to be involved in the functional reorganization of coexisting ditransitive constructions.

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