Under the influence of Chomsky, linguists had tended to think of rules as operations that cut and pasted phrases, such as moving a prepositional object leftward into the position of the direct object, or moving the direct object rightward into a prepositional phrase. (p. 42-43)
The meaning in language emerges through an interaction between the potential meaning of the words themselves (such as the things that the word “ate” can mean) and the meaning of the grammatical construction into which they are plugged. For example, even though “sneeze” is in the dictionary as an intransitive verb that only goes with a single actor (the one who sneezes), if one forces it into a ditransitive construction—one able to take both a direct and indirect object—the result might be “She sneezed him the napkin,” in which “sneeze” is construed as an action of transfer (that is to say, she made the napkin go to him). The sentence shows that grammatical structure can make as strong a contribution to the meaning of the utterance as do the words.