This paper presents an in-depth analysis of the English verbs envy and forgive in the ditransitive argument structure pattern [Sbj V Obj Obj]. Since the ditransitive construction is often associated with a basic ‘transfer of possession’ meaning in existing analyses of its constructional semantics, the occurrence of verbs like envy and forgive in this pattern is quite exceptional and has often been treated as an idiosyncratic use (see e.g. Green 1974, Goldberg 1995, Croft 2003). This paper adds to the etymological explanations traditionally offered to account for such cases (see Goldberg 1995) by presenting a complementary and semantically-driven account. It will be shown that although ditransitives with envy and forgive are obviously peripheral members of the class of ditransitive expressions, these uses are not semantically unmotivated. In this paper we will establish synchronic semantic links between the concepts of envying and forgiving and the central ‘possessional transfer’ meaning of the ditransitive and further elucidate them on the basis of a multidimensional approach to the semantics of grammatical constructions (Geeraerts 1998, Colleman 2006). On a higher plane, this semantic explanation underscores the feasibility of Goldberg’s polysemy approach to ditransitive semantics.
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