As we saw in the preceding chapter, a ditransitive construction is a monoclausal construction containing a verb of physical or mental transfer and three arguments: an agent, a theme (i.e. the thing that is transferred) and a recipient (or addressee). Again, this chapter is mostly concerned with ‘give’, the most frequent ditransitive verb. While Chapter 60 focused on argument coding, in this chapter we consider the order of the recipient and the theme with respect to each other and with respect to the verb. The position of the subject/agent is not so interesting, as it is almost always in the same position with respect to the verb and the two objects as in monoclausal constructions (with respect to the verb and the single object, see Chapter 1).
Sometimes pronominal objects occupy a different position from full NP objects. In this chapter, the special position of pronominal objects is mostly ignored. Constructions with special information structure properties are also ignored.
We distinguish eight different ordering possibilities, out of which only the first two occur with any frequency in our data, corresponding to the strong tendency for SVO structure in the APiCS languages. SOV order (cf. values 3 and 4) and verb-initial order (cf. values 5 and 6) are quite rare in our languages. Still other possibilities are quite marginal (cf. values 7 and 8).
|Subject – verb – recipient – theme||23||39||62|
|Subject – verb – theme – recipient||6||39||45|
|Subject – theme – recipient – verb||0||5||5|
|Subject – recipient – theme – verb||2||6||8|
|Verb-initial recipient – theme||0||3||3|
|Verb-initial theme – recipient||1||4||5|
|Other recipient – theme||0||3||3|
|Other theme – recipient||0||2||2|
Value 5 effectively means the order V-S-R-T (because V-R-S-T and V-R-T-S do not occur at all), but value 6 comprises the ordering possibilities V-S-T-R, V-T-S-R, and V-T-R-S.
Other R-T ordering options (value 7) are S-R-V-T, R-V-T-S, and R-T-V-S. Another T-R ordering option (value 8) is S-T-V-R.
Overall, we see that recipient – theme ordering is clearly preferred among the APiCS languages, not only in SVO languages (value 1 vs. 2), but also, if less clearly, in SOV languages (value 4 vs. 3), where only S-R-T-V is reported as the only possible option for two languages.
In SVO languages, there is a clear correlation between the marking and the positioning of the recipient: When the recipient is not coded in a special way and cooccurs with the theme in a double-object construction (i.e. when the alignment is neutral, cf. Chapter 60), we overwhelmingly find the order S-V-R-T (value 1):
By contrast, when the recipient is marked by a preposition and the theme is unmarked (i.e. when the alignment is indirective), we overwhelmingly find the order S-V-T-R (value 2):
In quite a few APiCS languages, there is an alternation between a double-object construction (see 3a and 4a) and an indirective construction (see 3b and 4b), with the word order alternating as well, just as in the English Dative Alternation:
This kind of ordering alternation is found not only when the recipient is marked by a preposition, but also when it is marked by a serial verb, as in (5b):
Moreover, it is found far beyond English-based languages, so English influence explains the pattern only for a few of the languages. And the preference for R-T ordering with double-object constructions and T-R ordering with indirective constructions seems to be general in the world’s languages (Heine & König 2010).
Deviations from the general pattern are quite uncommon. Recipient-theme order with prepositional recipients tends to be found only when the recipient is a pronoun and hence quite short, e.g.
The opposite pattern, T-R order in an SVO language with a double-object construction is rare but is occasionally found in the Indian Ocean, e.g.
When the usual order is subject-object-verb, there seems to be a general preference for recipient-theme order, but no clear correlation with the type of coding. In these languages, the coding may be by a postposition or case suffix:
Verb-initial order is found especially in the Spanish-based languages of the Philippines, and since these have prepositional recipients, it is not surprising that they generally show V-T-R order (rather than V-R-T order), e.g.