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Dative shifting is a grammatical process by which an oblique argument of a verb, usually one functioning as a recipient or a benefactive (roles often expressed by datives), is placed in the same grammatical role as a patient, increasing the valency of the verb and forming a clause with two objects. An example in English would be:
He gave a present to me versus He gave me a present, the latter being the dative-shifted version.
This is commonly done to emphasize the oblique, which would normally be of secondary importance.
Dative shifting is similar to the applicative construction, though with two main differences: The oblique roles are generally restricted to recipient or beneficiary as opposed to the other forms of obliques that may appear in applicatives; there is also usually no marking on the verb, as opposed to applicatives which usually signal the construction through a morpheme added to the verb.
See also 
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