The Diachrony of Ditransitives

Call for papers

Workshop description

Ditransitives are typically described as verbs with three arguments that encode the transfer of a Theme from an Agent to a Recipient: canonical ditransitives are, for instance, those denoting an event of possessive transfer (e.g., to give) or mental transfer (e.g., to teach). From a syntactic point of view, the two object arguments, Theme and Recipient, are expressed through different types of constructions across languages, which have been described also in terms of alignment patterns in typological perspective (cf., e.g., Dryer 1986, Siewierska 2003, Malchukov, Haspelmath & Comrie 2010, Haspelmath 2011).

While a huge amount of literature exists on ditransitives from a synchronic point of view and within different theoretical frameworks, diachronic issues related to these verbs have been not so widely investigated (in spite of many valuable contributions, such as, e.g., Barðdal 2007, de Cuypere 2015, Geleyn 2016 on Germanic).

Therefore, this workshop aims to explore ditransitives and the constructions to which they give rise across languages looking specifically at their behaviour and evolution over time, in order to shed light on the diachronic changes involving these verbs. The possible research questions that this topic raises include the following:

  • (i) In which directions ditransitives change from a semantic and syntactic point of view. In other words, is it possible to identify general developmental directions followed mostly by ditransitive verbs across languages?
  • (ii) To what extent diachronic variation in argument realization is reflected in the synchronic syntax of ditransitives.
  • (iii) How we may model the emergence and disappearance of ditransitive constructions in a given language (for instance, with regard to the so called double object construction).
  • (iv) Which factors play a major role in determining alignment types and alternations with ditransitives over time.
  • (v) Whether we may identify common diachronic paths in the substitution of morphological cases with prepositional strategies in the syntax of ditransitives.
  • (vi) How the semantic characteristics of specific classes of ditransitives influence their diachrony. For instance, which sub-categories of ditransitives, if any, are more prone to diachronic change, and along which paths of development?

The workshop invites abstracts related to the themes including, but not limited to, the lines of research emerging from the list above, and encourages submissions:

    • based on different theoretical models;
    • discussing new historical data in individual languages;
    • analyzing data from a comparative perspective;
    • following a corpus based approach;
    • providing qualitative and quantitative analyses.

Selected bibliography

  • Barðdal, Johanna. 2007. The Semantic and Lexical Range of the Ditransitive Construction in the History of (North) Germanic. In Functions of Language 14/1: 9-30.
  • Colleman, Timothy & Bernard de Clerck. 2011. Constructional semantics on the move: on semantic specialization in the English double object construction. In Cognitive Linguistics 22/1: 183-209.
  • de Cuypere, Ludovic. 2015. The Old English to-dative construction. In English Language and Linguistics 19/1: 1-26.
  • Dryer, Matthew S. 1986. Primary Objects, Secondary Objects, and Antidative. In Language 62/4: 808-845.
  • Geleyn, Tim. 2016. Syntactic variation and diachrony. The case of the Dutch dative alternation. In Corpus Linguistics and Linguistic Theory 13/1: 65-96.
  • Haspelmath, Martin. 2011. On S, A, P, T, and R as comparative concepts for alignment typology. In Linguistic Typology 15/3: 535-567.
  • von Heusinger, Klaus. Forthcoming. The diachronic development of Differential Object Marking in Spanish ditransitive constructions. In Ilja A. Seržant & Alena Witzlack-Makarevich (eds.), Diachrony of differential argument marking. Berlin: Language Science Press.
  • Malchukov, Andrej, Haspelmath, Martin & Bernard Comrie. 2010. Ditransitive constructions: a typological overview. In Andrej Malchukov, Martin Haspelmath & Bernard Comrie (eds.), Studies in Ditransitive Constructions. A Comparative Handbook, 1-64. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Siewierska, Anna. 2003. Person agreement and the determination of alignment. In Transactions of the Philological Society 101/2: 339-370.

Call for papers

Abstracts are invited for oral presentations (20 minutes plus 10 minutes for discussion). They should be at most 2 pages long (including examples and references) and should be submitted in both PDF and Word format by sending them to the organizing Committee (Chiara Fedriani and Maria Napoli Submissions should be anonymous. Please, include contact details (name, affiliation and email address) and the title of the submission in the body of the email. Abstracts will be reviewed anonymously by two members of the Scientific Committee.