Alternations play a central role in most current theories of verbal argument structure, which are devised primarily to model the syntactic flexibility of verbs. Accordingly, these frameworks take verbs, and their projection properties, to be the sole contributors of thematic content to the clause. Approached from this perspective, the German applicative (or be-prefix) construction has puzzling properties. First, while many applicative verbs have transparent base forms, many, including those coined from nouns, do not. Second, applicative verbs are bound by interpretive and argument-realization conditions which cannot be traced to their base forms, if any. These facts suggest that applicative formation is not appropriately modeled as a lexical rule. Using corpus data from a diverse array of genres,
Michaelis and Ruppenhofer propose a unified solution to these two puzzles within the frame-work of Construction Grammar. Central to this account is the concept of valence augmentation: argument-structure constructions denote event types, and therefore license valence sets which may properly include those of their lexical fillers. As per
Panini's Law, resolution of valence mismatch favors the construction over the verb. Like verbs of transfer and lo-cation, the applicative construction has a prototype-based event-structure representation: diverse implications of applicative predications - including iteration, transfer, affectedness, intensity and saturation - are shown to derive via regular patterns of semantic extension from the topological concept of coverage.