Statistical observations on hierarchies of transitivity

  • 1 University of the Basque Country / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, Unibertsitateko ibilbidea 5,, 01006 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain
  • 2 University of Leiden & Kazan Federal University, P.N. van Eyckhof 3, Leiden, The Netherlands
Gontzal Aldai
  • Corresponding author
  • University of the Basque Country / Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea, Unibertsitateko ibilbidea 5,, 01006 Vitoria-Gasteiz, Araba,, Spain
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and Søren Wichmann

Abstract

In this paper we first test whether there is statistical support for a transitivity hierarchy viewed as an implicational hierarchy. To that end we construct data-driven transitivity hierarchies of two-place verb meanings based on the Valency Patterns Leipzig (ValPaL) database using Guttman scaling. We look at how well the hierarchies conform to strict scalarity (one-dimensionality) and, through matrix randomization, test whether their strengths are significant. We then go on to construct slightly different hierarchies based on simple counts of instances of two-participant coding frames for a given verb meaning across languages, rather than through the Guttman scaling procedure, which yields less resolution and is not designed for missing data. Finally, we assess whether the members of the hierarchies fall into semantic verb classes. The concluding section summarizes the results.

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The official journal of the Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE), Folia Linguistica covers all non-historical areas in the traditional disciplines of general linguistics, and also sociological, discoursal, computational and psychological aspects of language and linguistic theory. Folia Linguistica Historica is exclusively devoted to diachronic linguistics (both historical and comparative) and to the history of linguistics.

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