The central sense of the construction is argued to involve transfer between a volitional agent and a willing recipient: the actual successful transfer:
Subject (Agent) - Predicate (Cause-Receive) - Object 1 (Recipient) - Object 2 (Patient), e.g.: Joe loaned Bob a lot of money.
The metaphorical extension of the semantic structure of the Ditransitive Construction is based on the systemic metaphors and includes the following senses:
causal events as transfers: e.g.: The rain brought us some time. The music lent the party a festive relief.;
communication as “reception”, communication is understood as “traveling across” from the stimulus to the listener, e.g.: She told Jo a fairy tale. She wired Jo a message.
perception as “reception”, perceptions are understood as entities which move toward the perceiver: e.g.: He showed Bob the view.
actions as “reception entities”, which are understood as intentionally directed at another person and transferred to that person, e.g.: She blew him a kiss. She gave him a wink.
facts and assumptions as objects which are given: e.g.: I’ll give you that assumption.
Semantic constraints which license the use of verb in the construction concern the semantic roles of agent and recipient.
Constraint on the Agent: the referent designated by the subject must be a volitional agent. The agent may also reveal no volitionality, e.g. in the cases when causal events are construed as transfers due to a conventional systemic metaphor. (The metaphor licenses more abstract senses into semantics of the Ditransitive Construction.) Mary accidentally murdered Jane. She gave me the flue. Here the effect of the causal event is construed as an object which is transferred. The given examples imply that the subject is the cause of the first object being affected in some way by “receiving” the second object: The rain brought us some time. - The rain (cause - as agent), us (affected entity - as recipient), some time (effect - as patient).
Constraint on the Recipient: the referent designated by the first object must be a “willing” recipient, i.e. willing to accept or potentially able to accept the transferred object in order for transfer to be successful, e.g.: Bill gave Chris a headache. In this aspect the sentences Bill told Mary a story, but she wasn’t listening. and Bill threw the coma victim a blanket. are impossible. The prototypical “willing” recipient is an animate being. The rest cases are viewed as metaphorical extension, e.g.: The paint job gave the car a higher sale price.
The semantic constraints relate verb and construction and are true for the central sense of the Ditransitive Construction “the actual successful transfer”, the other, non-prototypical senses are viewed as extensions from the basic sense as licensed by the systemic metaphors.
C a u s e d – M o t i o n C o n s t r u c t i o n
The Caused-Motion Construction is defined structurally as