Valency classes in the World's languages
Aims and Scope
Earlier empirical studies on valency have looked at the phenomenon either in individual languages or a small range of languages, or have concerned themselves with only small subparts of valency (e.g. transitivity, ditransitive constructions), leaving a lacuna that the present volume aims to fill by considering a wide range of valency phenomena across 30 languages from different parts of the world. The individual-language studies, each written by a specialist or group of specialists on that language and covering both valency patterns and valency alternations, are based on a questionnaire (reproduced in the volume) and an on-line freely accessible database, thus guaranteeing comparability of cross-linguistic results. In addition, introductory chapters provide the background to the project and discuss its main characteristics and selected results, while a series of featured articles by leading scholars who helped shape the field provide an outside perspective on the volume’s approach. The volume is essential reading for anyone interested in valency and argument structure, irrespective of theoretical persuasion, and will serve as a model for future descriptive studies of valency in individual languages.
Our data come from the Eastern Armenian National Corpus (www.eanc.net), an open electronic resource including over 100 million word tokens and covering Eastern Armenian from the moment of its standardization (early 19th century) to the present. Naturalistic examples, however, are often lengthy and contain a lot of irrelevant data. For the sake of simplicity many examples cited below are constructed, based on one of the authors’ native knowledge. For most of these constructed examples, parallel naturalistic examples may be found in the online valency database (valpal.info) to which this volume is a sister project. When naturalistic, examples are marked as EANC, additionally indicating whether they come from translated fiction, newspaper or original fiction (the name of the author is given in the latter case). Examples are given both in the Armenian script and in the transliteration which is close to the traditional Latin transliteration of Armenian (Hübschmann-Meillet) but is slightly modified to better match IPA. The paper is structured as follows. Section 2 provides a general overview of Eastern Armenian morphosyntax. Section 3 is a discussion of transitivity issues and the two transitivity changing derivations, the mediopassive and the causative, the only marked valency alternations existing in Eastern Armenian. The question of whether Eastern Armenian is primarily a transitivizing or detransitivizing language in terms of Nichols et al. (2004) is briefly addressed. Section 4 covers unmarked alternations, including reciprocal, object omission, contentive-locative and the most unusual of all, the proprietive (ablative-genitive) alternation, showing alternative construals of the same inanimate participant as the Source or (retrospective) Possessor. Section 5 introduces the notion of extended valencies: semantic roles that represent identical participants and are marked in the same way with all verbs but that that are optional with some verbs while obligatory with other verbs. Using this notion helps to establish connections between verb classes that are different only in the degree to which the participant is integrated into the respective situation (cf. Beneficiary with ‘build (for)’ vs. ‘send (to)’ vs. ‘give to’). Finally, Section 6, building on the data on case frames (e.g. dative verbs or transitive verbs) and alternations available for specific verbs (first of all availability of marked alternations), groups them into classes of common morphosyntactic behavior to produce a valency-based classification of Eastern Armenian verbs. Section 7 is a brief summary of the paper.