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Verbconstructions cross-linguistically - Introduction

--Lars Hellan 17:13, 3 November 2013 (UTC)--


INTRODUCTION

We present a system enabling enumeration of verb constructions cross-linguistically such that:

  • For each language, the enumeration can be complete and transparent;
  • Across languages, the enumerations can be comparable.

The environment consists of a labeling system which, for any verb construction of a given language, provides a template for that construction type displaying its argument structure, in a fashion as transparent as possible. The template is constructed from an inventory of labeling primitives.

The initiative started with, on the one hand, a rather extensive inventory of Verb Constructions in Norwegian (based on the TROLL 1989 work, NorKompLeks 1996, and Norsource 2002--), and on the other, a comparative survey of closely related languages of the Volta Basin Area (supported by The Legon-Trondheim project on Ghanaian languages).

The most comprehensive introduction is given in Hellan, L. and M.E.K. Dakubu 2010: Identifying verb constructions cross-linguistically (SLAVOB Series 6.3, University of Ghana), consisting of the parts: The system , Ga Appendix , Norwegian Appendix , and augmented by Derivation in the Construction Labeling system.

The characterization of a construction type relates to at least the following parameters, when applicable:

  • diathesis/argument operations (such as passive, causativisation, applicative formation),
  • syntactic valency,
  • semantic participants, aspect/Aktionsart and situation type,
  • particular patterns of agreement, including coreference patterns (such as 'equi' and 'raising' patterns, argument sharing, secondary predication), tense/aspect agreement, and subject and object marking,
  • 'full' vs 'expletive' elements.

NOT included are modification and syntactic processes not particular to the formation of argument structure.

The basic structural parts of a template are referred to as slots. In the slot specification, the following conventions are observed:

  • Slots are interconnected by '-' (hyphen).
  • Distinct items inside a slot are interconnected by '_' (underline).
  • An item label containing neither ‘-‘ nor ‘_’ is an uninterrupted string of letters. If it acts as a complex label, the internal composition is indicated by alternation between small and capital letters (however, no labels are distinguished in terms of CAP vs. not).

Constructions with a Verb as head have a Template structure with maximum five slots:

  • Slot 1: POS of the head, and diathesis information (e.g.: 'V_pas' for passive diathesis; 'V' alone if the construction is active).
  • Slot 2: Valency: transitivity specification - intr, tr, ditr, ... (see list below) (if the construction is passive, the valence given is that of its corresponding active form).
  • Slot 3: Dependent Specification: comments on syntactic and referential properties of specific arguments – see list below.
  • Slot 4: Participant Roles.
  • Slot 5: Aspect, written in CAPS.
  • Slot 6: Situation Type: a label for the situation type expressed by the construction, written in CAPS.

Slots 1 and 2 are obligatorily filled, the others not. A slot not specified is not displayed; however, the labels defined for the various slots are distinct, hence no specification can be misread with regard to which slot it fits into. Likewise, no labels are distinguished in terms of CAP vs. not.

The following template exemplifies the notation (with an English example sentence):

(1)

v-tr-suAg_obAffincrem-COMPLETED_MONODEVMNT

the boy eats the cake

The template reads as:

  • Slot 1: The head is V;
  • Slot 2: the syntactic frame is transitive;
  • Slot 4: the thematic roles expressed are 'agent' and 'incrementally affected';
  • Slot 5: the Aktionsart type is (partially characterized as) 'completed monotonic development'.

Nothing here occupies Slot 3 or 6. (Since neither 'suAg','obAffincrem' nor 'COMPLETED_MONODEVMNT' are defined for other slots, there is no ambiguity as to which slots are here filled.)

The following template has specification for the first three slots (from Norwegian, with gloss and translation):

(2)

v-trScpr-scObNrgCsd_scAdj
han sang rommet tomt
“he sang the room empty”
han
han
heSBJ3PSGNOM
PN
sang
sang
singPAST
Vitr
rommet
romet
roomOBJDEFSGNEUT
CN
tomt
tomt
emptySCSGNEUT
ADJ

This template reads as:

* Slot 1: The head is V; 
* Slot 2: the syntactic frame is transitive with a secondary ('small clause') predicate;
* Slot 3: the secondary predicate is predicated of the object, which is a 'non-argument', 
i.e., does not have a semantic argument relation to the verb, and expresses the result 
of a causation; moreover, the secondary predicate is headed by an adjective.


Below is a list of labels for slots 1, 2 and 3 as are currently used in the system for Norwegian.

LABELS REFLECTING HEAD AND VALENCE (SLOT 1 and 2)

SLOT 1:

v = construction is headed by Verb.
v_pas = construction is headed by Verb and has undergone passivization.


SLOT 2:

General definitions, essential to slot 2-definitions:

A direct syntactic argument of a verb is any nominal constituent syntactically directly related to the verb (as subject-of, direct object-of, or indirect object-of), and any clausal constituent with either of these functions. (This includes expletive subjects and objects, and excludes clausal constituents in extraposed position; it also excludes any NP or clause governed by a preposition or other relation-item as a direct syntact argument of the verb.)

With this notion 'direct syntactic argument', we define three basic valency notions:

intr = intransitive, i.e., with only SUBJECT as direct syntactic argument.

tr = transitive, i.e., with SUBJECT and one OBJECT as direct syntactic arguments.

ditr = ditransitive, i.e., with SUBJECT and two OBJECTs as direct syntactic arguments.

A direct syntactic argument is standardly linked when it has referential content and serves a semantic argument function relative to the verb. (This excludes expletive subjects and objects and 'raised' full NPs - these are not 'standardly linked'.)


Intransitive constructions

intr = intransitive, i.e., with only SUBJECT as direct syntactic argument.
intrImpers = impersonal intransitive, i.e., SUBJECT is an expletive not linked 
to any other item in the clause.
intrImpersPrtcl = impersonal intransitive with an aspectual particle.
intrImpersObl = impersonal intransitive with an oblique argument.
intrPresentational = intransitive with a presentational structure, i.e., 
an expletive subject and an indefinite NP (the 'presented' NP) occupying 
the post-verbal position.
intrDirPresentational = intrPresentational where the presented NP has a directional capacity.
intrPresentationalLoc = intrPresentational with a locative constituent.
intrDir = intransitive where the subject has a directional capacity.
intrAdv = intransitive with an obligatory adverbial.
intrPrtcl = intransitive with an aspectual particle.
intrObl = intransitive with an oblique argument.
intrOblRais = intransitive with an oblique argument from which an NP has been 'raised'.
intrScpr = intransitive with a secondary predicate (Small Clause predicate).
intrLghtScpr = intransitive light verb with a secondary predicate (Small Clause predicate).
intrExpn = intransitive with an 'extraposed' clause.
intrPrtclExpn = intransitive with an 'extraposed' clause and an advparticle.
intrOblExpn = intransitive with an 'extraposed' clause and an oblique argument.
intrPrtclOblExpn = intransitive with an 'extraposed' clause, an oblique argument, 
and an advparticle.
intrPrtclOblRais = intransitive with an oblique argument from which an NP has been 'raised', 
and an advparticle.
intrImplicobjObl = intransitive with implicit object, followed by PP.


Comment:

A SUBJECT is standardly linked in templates containing the forms

v-intr-
v-intrDir-
v-intrAdv-
v-intrPrtcl-
v-intrObl-

In templates containing the form

v-intrScpr-

the SUBJECT may be standardly linked, depending on whether the ensuing sc-specification contains '...Arg...' (is standardly linked) or '...Nrg...' (is not standardly linked).

In all other templates initiated by

v-intr...-

the SUBJECT is not standardly linked.


Transitive constructions

tr = transitive, i.e., with SUBJECT and one OBJECT.
trDir = transitive, where the subject is understood in a directional capacity.
trPrtcl = transitive with an advparticle. 
trPresentational = presentational structure with an NP preceding the 'presented' NP.
trObl = transitive with an oblique.
trAdv = transitive with an obligadverbial.
trExpnSu = transitive with an extraposed clause correlated with the subject, 
and an argument object.
trExpnOb = transitive with an extraposed clause correlated with the object, 
and an argument subject.
trScpr = transitive with a secondary predicate (Small Clause predicate).
trNrf = transitive whose object is non-referential.

Comment:

A SUBJECT is standardly linked in templates containing the forms

v-tr-
v-trDir-
v-trAdv-
v-trPrtcl-
v-trObl-
v-trExpnOb-
v-trNrf-

In templates containing the form

v-trScpr-

the SUBJECT may be standardly linked: it is, when the ensuing secpred is predicated of the object (expressed by 'scOb...'), and when the secpred is predicated of the subject, it can be standardly linked, depending on whether an ensuing scSu-specification contains '...Arg...' (is) or '...Nrg...' (is not).

In all other templates initiated by

v-tr...-

the SUBJECT is not standardly linked.

An OBJECT is standardly linked in templates containing the forms

v-tr-
v-trDir-
v-trAdv-
v-trPrtcl-
v-trObl-
v-trExpnSu-
v-trPresentational-

In templates containing the form

v-trScpr-

the OBJECT may be standardly linked: it is, when the ensuing secpred is predicated of the subject (expressed by 'scSu...'); when the secpred is predicated of the object, it can be standardly linked, depending on whether an ensuing scOb-specification contains '...Arg...' (is) or '...Nrg...' (is not).

In all other templates initiated by

v-tr...-

the OBJECT is not standardly linked.


Ditransitive constructions

ditr = ditransitive, i.e., with SUBJECT and two OBJECTs (here referred to by 
the traditional  terms 'indirect' ('iob') and 'direct' object, when distinction is necessary).
ditrObl = ditransitive with oblique.
ditrNrf = ditransitive whose indirect object is non-referential.

Comment:

In a ditransitive construction, a SUBJECT and a 'direct' OBJECT are always standardly linked.

In templates containing the forms

v-ditrNrf-

the indirect OBJECT is not standardly linked; apart from this case, also the indirect OBJECT is always linked.


Copula constructions

copAdj = predicative copular construction with adjectival predicative.
copN = predicative copular construction with nominal predicative.
copPP = predicative copular construction with prepositional predicative.
copPredprtcl = predicative copular construction with predicative headed by a pred-predparticle.
copIdN = identity copular construction with nominal predicative.
copIdAbsinf = identity copular construction with infinitival predicative.  
copIdDECL = identity copular construction with a declarative clause as predicative.  
copIdYN = identity copular construction with a yes-no-interrogative clause as predicative.  
copIdWH = identity copular construction with a wh-interrogative clause as predicative.  
copExpnAdj =  predicative copular construction with adjectival predicative 
and the 'logical subject' extraposed.  
copExpnN =  predicative copular construction with nominal predicative and 
the 'logical subject' extraposed.  
copExpnPP =  predicative copular construction with prepositional predicative and 
the 'logical subject' extraposed.  
copExpnPredprtcl =  predicative copular construction with predicative headed by a 
pred-particle and the 'logical subject' extraposed.  

Comment:

In a copular construction, a SUBJECT is standardly linked, except when the label contains '...Expn...'.


LABELS REFLECTING SYNTACTIC ARGUMENTS (SLOT 3)

Subjects

suExpl = subject is an expletive.
suDECL = subject is a declarative clause.
suYN = subject is a yes-no-interrogative clause.
suWH = subject is a wh-interrogative clause.
suAbsinf = subject is an infinitival clause with non-controlled interpretation.
suNrg = subject is a non-argument.

Objects

obDir = object is understood in a directional capacity.
obRefl = object is a reflexive.
obReflExpl = object is an expletive reflexive.
obDECL = object is a declarative clause
obYN = object is a yes-no-interrogative clause.
obWH = object is a wh-interrogative clause.
obEqInf = object is an infinitive equi-controlled by the only available possible controller.
obEqSuInf = object is an infinitive equi-controlled by subject.
obEqIobInf =  object is an infinitive equi-controlled by indirect object.
obEqBareinf =  object is a bare infinitive equi-controlled by the 
 only available possible controller.
obEqIobBareinf =  object is a bare infinitive equi-controlled by indirect object.
obEquSuBareinf =  object is a bare infinitive equi-controlled by subject.
obAbsInf = object is a non-controlled infinitive.
obRefl = indirect object is a reflexive.
iobReflExpl = indirect object is an expletive reflexive.

Obliques

oblEqSuInf = the governee of the oblique is an infinitive equi-controlled by subject.
oblEqObInf = the governee of the oblique is an infinitive equi-controlled by object.
oblRaisInf =  the governee of the oblique is an infinitive which is 
 raising-controlled by the subject.
oblRefl = the governee of the oblique is a reflexive.
oblDECL = the governee of the oblique is a declarative clause.
oblYN = the governee of the oblique is a yes-no-interrogative clause.
oblWH = the governee of the oblique is a wh-interrogative clause.
oblAbsinf = the governee of the oblique is a non-controlled infinitive.
oblPRTOFsubj = the referent of the governee of the oblique is interpreted as 
 part-of the referent of the subject.
oblPRTOFobj = the referent of the governee of the oblique is interpreted as 
 part-of the referent of the object.
oblPRTOFiobj = the referent of the governee of the oblique is interpreted as 
 part-of the referent of the indirect object.
oblExpnAbsinf = extraposed is a non-controlled infinitive occurring as governee of an oblique. 
oblExpnDECL = extraposed is a declarative clause occurring as governee of an oblique. 

Non-causative secondary predicates

scSuNrg = the secondary predicate is predicated of a non-argument subject 
 (i.e., a subject not serving as semantic argument of the matrix verb - 
  'raising to subject').
scObNrg = the secondary predicate is predicated of a non-argument object 
 (i.e., an object not serving as semantic argument of the matrix verb - raising to object'). 
scObArgConcurr = the secondary predicate is predicated of an argument object 
 (i.e., an object serving as semantic argument of the matrix verb), and 
 the matrix verb (together with its subject) is part of the description of an event concurrent 
 with the situation described by the secondary predication. 

Causative secondary predicates

scObNrgRes = the secondary predicate is predicated of a non-argument object 
 (i.e., an object not serving as semantic argument of the matrix verb - 
 raising to object'), and of the event causing the situation described 
 by the secondary predication, only the participant denoted by the subject is specified. 
scSuArgCsd = the secondary predicate is predicated of an argument subject 
 (i.e., a subject serving as semantic argument of the matrix verb), and 
 the matrix verb (together with its subject) is part of the description of 
 an event causing the situation described by the secondary predication. 
scObArgCsd = the secondary predicate is predicated of an argument object 
 (i.e., an object serving as semantic argument of the matrix verb), and 
 the matrix verb (together with its subject) is part of the description of 
 an event causing the situation described by the secondary predication. 
scSuNrgCsd = the secondary predicate is predicated of a non-argument subject 
 (i.e., a subject not serving as semantic argument of the matrix verb - 
 raising to subject'), and the matrix verb is part of the description of 
 an event causing the situation described by the secondary predication. 
scObNrgCsd = the secondary predicate is predicated of a non-argument object 
 (i.e., an object not serving as semantic argument of the matrix verb - 
 raising to object'), and the matrix verb (together with its subject) is 
 part of the description of an event causing the situation described by 
 the secondary predication. 

For all the causative labels, there is a possible final specification:

...rgCsdZr =  ... the matrix verb is part of the description of a zero-participant 
 event causing the situation described by the secondary predication. 
...rgCsdUn = ... the matrix verb is part of the description of a one-participant 
 event causing the situation described by the secondary predication. 
...rgCsdBin =  ... the matrix verb is part of the description of a two-participant 
 event causing the situation described by the secondary predication. 

Extraposed clauses

expnDECL = extraposed is a declarative clause.
expnYN = extraposed is a yes-no-interrogative clause.
expnWH = extraposed is a wh-interrogative clause.
expnCOND = extraposed is a conditional clause.
expnEqInf = extraposed is an equi-controlled infinitive.
expnAbsinf = extraposed is a non-controlled infinitive.


LABELS REFLECTING SEMANTIC ARGUMENTS, to appear (SLOT 4)

LABELS REFLECTING AKTIONSART, to appear (SLOT 5)

LABELS REFLECTING SITUATION TYPES, to appear (SLOT 6)

Languages

Norwegian

For an inventory list of constructions in Norwegian using these abbreviations, see Verbconstructions Norwegian - all types

For an inventory list of intransitive constructions in Norwegian using these abbreviations, see Verbconstructions Norwegian - intransitive

For an inventory list of transitive constructions in Norwegian using these abbreviations, see Verbconstructions Norwegian - transitive

For an inventory list of ditransitive and copular constructions in Norwegian using these abbreviations, see Verbconstructions Norwegian - ditransitive and copular

For a presentation describing a connection between the present system and computational grammar engineering, see [Paper COLING GEAF-workshop 2008]

A compact list of Norwegian construction types, with a bare minimum of glossing, is given in Norwegian list Dec 2009


Ga

A compact view of the Ga valence profile is given at Ga Valence Profile, and with examples, on Ga Appendix . A wiki display of the 93 sentences annotated in TypeCraft is given at Ga annotated corpus.


Kistaninya

A collection of 88 annotated sentences of Kistaninya, including classification relative to the present construction labeling, is found at http://typecraft.org/TCEditor/1131/. A construction profile for the language is given at Valence Profile Kistaninya.


English

An exemplified English valence profile is found in English list Dec 2011, and at the page Valence Profile English.


Edo

Applications of the system to Edo and to collections of constructions from various Niger-Congo languages including Edo are found at Applying a Construction labeling code to Edo.


Gurene

An exemplified Gurene valence profile is found in Gurene verb constructions list 2010 An initial wiki page is Gurene verb constructions.


Amharic

Collections of annotated Amharic sentences partly annotated also for construction labelig are discussed at Amharic Verb Constructions.


Notions of 'feature' in linguistic theory: cross-theoretical and cross-linguistic perspectives

For initiatives of exploring the notion of 'feature' in typological and cross-linguistic contexts, see Notions of 'feature' in linguistic theory: cross-theoretical and cross-linguistic perspectives.


This page is linked from Multilingual Verb Valence Lexicon.

Use of the system in grammar implementation

TypeGram

A computational grammar which accommodates all the templates defined in the system - called TypeGram (for 'Typological Grammar') - is presented at the page TypeGram.



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