Publication details [#63562]

Ponsford, Dan. 2017. From manipulation to social interaction. Change in the use of lay in initiating bets. Constructions and Frames 9 (1) : 41–69.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


This paper is about constructional change that is brought about through change in non-linguistic practice. The English construction of interest is one that speakers use to initiate bets with their addressees. Its verb is lay, its subject is the speaker, and its direct object is the stake the speaker proposes to risk. It is argued that the motivation for the use of lay comes partly from the practice of laying down stakes when making bets. However, it is shown that over the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries this practice declines, weakening the basis for a physical interpretation and leading hearers to attend instead to the speaker-addressee relation. Concurrently, this relation is increasingly expressed through the use of a dative argument. This development is discussed in relation to Ariel et al.’s (2015) account of added datives.