Caused motion construction

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The caused motion construction (omitting the subject, which Lamb does not consider part of it) is a construction that can be written


where <DIR> stands for "directional," covering such possibilities as "away", "into the room", "off the table", "out of here", etc. Here, <MOVE> represents any action that can cause motion, and so it permits any verb that can be so construed, even "sneeze", to impart motion to a suitable patient -- that is, anything construable as a suitable patient. Notice that we are talking semantics and not about syntax as traditionally treated. As soon as a speaker can construe any action as an instance of caused motion, the values of the variables are those which fit this construal of the situation.


  • Lamb, Sydney M.. 2004. Language and Reality: Selected Writings of Sydney Lamb. London: Continuum.