Edited by Lotte Sommerer and Elena Smirnova
[Constructional Approaches to Language 27] 2020
► pp. 168–211
Constructional networks and the development of benefactive ditransitives in English
In this paper, we address the question of how to model syntactic alternations in Diachronic Construction Grammar terms. We argue that positing horizontal links between constructions in addition to vertical ones is particularly beneficial in accounting for change. Our case study is the emergence of the English “benefactive alternation”, with focus on its relation to the more pervasive and more thoroughly studied “dative alternation”. Based on a quantitative investigation of ditransitive benefactive verbs in Early English Books Online (EEBO), we locate the emergence of the benefactive alternation in Early Modern English later than the dative alternation, which arose in Middle English. We conclude that the benefactive alternation can be modelled as complex networks featuring both horizontal and vertical links on various levels of schematicity.