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Data-driven Valence Typology

Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu and Lars Hellan

Nov. 7, 2011

Data-driven Valence Typology (DVT) is a project where we seek to represent the characteristic sentence construction types of a language – called its c-profile - in a transparent, detailed and non-theory-biased format, drawing from a common, restricted repertory of analytic-descriptive primitives, cf. [1]. By adhering to a common classification system, DVT in principle allows for its data to be searchable in a relational database. DVT has so far been developed with a view to cover significantly different languages (Ga from the Niger-Congo family Kwa, Norwegian from Germanic, and Kistaninya from Ethio-Semitic), while in a current phase the project has a more ‘micro-comparative’ focus, in showing how a profile for one language of a given family can be derived from the c-profile of another language in the same family. In Germanic we envisage such extensions with regard English and German, and in Kwa/Gur with regard to Dangme and Gurene.

In situating DVT among current projects and initiatives, it can perhaps be most directly related to VerbNet [2], its non-computational predecessor in Levin's work [3], and a cross-linguistic development of the latter, the Leipzig Valency Classes Project[4].

In future publications we will show how an inventory of verb classes in the Levin approach can be derived from a DVT c-profile and an accompanying verb construction lexicon, as are available for Ga [5], and for Norwegian [6]. We will also assess the notion of ‘valence alternation’ as a comparison unit, by itself notoriously difficult to define, and show that for the 150 most salient frames in Ga, none of them are interconnected by any of the ‘alternation’ patterns which are commonly applied in the European setting. We will advocate DVT as offering a sounder general basis for valence typology, not being directly dependent on notions like 'alternation'.

Further pages at this site giving information about the project include:

1. The three parts of [1], consisting of: The system , Ga Appendix , Norwegian Appendix

2. Verbconstructions cross-linguistically - Introduction, a predecessor of [1], and introducing the system particularly as applied to Norwegian, with wiki pages illustrating the by then established c-profile of Norwegian, with annotated examples for each type.

3. The following TypeCraft annotated texts:

 Ga sentence types	                Mary Esther Kropp Dakubu
 Norwegian verb constructions	        Lars Hellan
 Verb constructions in Kistaniniya	Bedilu Debela


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hellan and Dakubu 2010 Identifying Verb Constructions Cross-linguistically, SLAVOB series 6:3, University of Ghana, 2010
  2. Verbnet
  3. Levin 1993 English Verb Classes and Alternations, University of Chicago Press, Chicago,IL
  4. Leipzig Valency Classes Project
  5. Dakubu 2011 Ga Verbs and their Constructions
  6. Hellan 2011 Norwegian Verbs and their Constructions