Skip to content
BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access December 31, 2019

Transitivity prominence within and across modalities

Carl Börstell, Tommi Jantunen, Vadim Kimmelman, Vanja de Lint, Johanna Mesch and Marloes Oomen
From the journal Open Linguistics

Abstract

We investigate transitivity prominence of verbs across signed and spoken languages, based on data from both valency dictionaries and corpora. Our methodology relies on the assumption that dictionary data and corpus-based measures of transitivity are comparable, and we find evidence in support of this through the direct comparison of these two types of data across several spoken languages. For the signed modality, we measure the transitivity prominence of verbs in five sign languages based on corpus data and compare the results to the transitivity prominence hierarchy for spoken languages reported in Haspelmath (2015). For each sign language, we create a hierarchy for 12 verb meanings based on the proportion of overt direct objects per verb meaning. We use these hierarchies to calculate correlations between languages – both signed and spoken – and find positive correlations between transitivity hierarchies. Additional findings of this study include the observation that locative arguments seem to behave differently than direct objects judging by our measures of transitivity, and that relatedness among sign languages does not straightforwardly imply similarity in transitivity hierarchies. We conclude that our findings provide support for a modality-independent, semantic basis of transitivity.

References

Aldai, Gontzal, and Wichmann, Søren 2018. Statistical observations on hierarchies of transitivity. Folia Linguistica, 52 2 249–281.10.1515/flin-2018-0006Search in Google Scholar

Arka, I Wayan 2014. Locative-related Roles and the Argument-Adjunct Distinction in Balinese. Linguistic Discovery, 12 2 56–84.10.1349/PS1.1537-0852.A.446Search in Google Scholar

Benedicto, Elena, and Brentari, Diane 2004. Where did all the arguments go? Argument-changing properties of classifiers in ASL. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 22 743–810.10.1007/s11049-003-4698-2Search in Google Scholar

Bergman, Brita, and Engberg-Pedersen, Elisabeth 2010. Transmission of sign languages in the Nordic countries. In: Brentari, Diane (ed.), Sign languages: A Cambridge language survey, 74–94. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511712203.005Search in Google Scholar

Bickford, J. Albert 2005. The Signed Languages of Eastern Europe. Tech. rep., SIL International.Search in Google Scholar

Börstell, Carl 2017. Object marking in the signed modality: Verbal and nominal strategies in Swedish Sign Language and other sign languages. Ph.D. thesis, Stockholm University.10.1075/sll.00005.borSearch in Google Scholar

Börstell, Carl 2019. Differential object marking in sign languages. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 4 1 3.10.5334/gjgl.780Search in Google Scholar

Börstell, Carl, Hörberg, Thomas, and Östling, Robert 2016. Distribution and duration of signs and parts of speech in Swedish Sign Language. Sign Language & Linguistics, 19 2 143–196.10.1075/sll.19.2.01borSearch in Google Scholar

Börstell, Carl, Mesch, Johanna, and Wallin, Lars 2014. Segmenting the Swedish Sign Language Corpus: On the possibilities of using visual cues as a basis for syntactic segmentation. In: Crasborn, Onno, Efthimiou, Eleni, Fotinea, Evita, Hanke, Thomas, Kristoffersen, Jette, and Mesch, Johanna (eds.), Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Beyond the Manual Channel, 7–10, Paris. European Language Resources Association (ELRA).Search in Google Scholar

Bossong, Georg 1985. Differentielle Objektmarkierung in den Neuiranischen Sprache. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.Search in Google Scholar

Burkova, Svetlana 2015. Russian Sign Language Corpus 2012–2015. Novosibirsk: Novosibirsk State Technical University.Search in Google Scholar

Cennamo, Michela, and Fabrizio, Claudia 2013. Italian Valency Patterns. In: Hartmann, Iren, Haspelmath, Martin, and Taylor, Bradley (eds.), Valency Patterns Leipzig. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.Search in Google Scholar

Cooperrider, Kensy, Abner, Natasha, and Goldin-Meadow, Susan 2018. The Palm-Up Puzzle: Meanings and Origins of a Widespread Form in Gesture and Sign. Frontiers in Communication, 3.10.3389/fcomm.2018.00023Search in Google Scholar

Crasborn, Onno, and Zwitserlood, Inge 2008. The Corpus NGT: an online corpus for professionals and laymen. In: Crasborn, Onno, Efthemiou, Eleni, Hanke, Thomas, Thoutenhoofd, Ernst D., and Zwitserlood, Inge (eds.), Proceedings of the 3rdWorkshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages. [6thInternational Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2008)], 44–49, Paris. ELRA.Search in Google Scholar

Crasborn, Onno, Zwitserlood, Inge, and Ros, Johan 2008. The Corpus NGT. An open access digital corpus of movies with annotations of Sign Language of the Netherlands. Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen. ISLRN: 175-346-174-413-3.Search in Google Scholar

Crasborn, Onno A. 2007. How to recognise a sentence when you see one. Sign Language & Linguistics, 102 103–111.Search in Google Scholar

De Lint, Vanja 2018. NGT classifier constructions: an inventory of arguments. Sign Language & Linguistics, 211.10.1075/sll.00011.linSearch in Google Scholar

Dixon, R. M. W. 1979. Ergativity. Language, 55 59–138.Search in Google Scholar

Dowty, David R. 1982. Grammatical relations and Montague grammar. In: Jacobson, Pauline, and Pullum, Geoffrey K. (eds.), The Nature of Syntactic Representation, 79–130. Dordrecht: Springer.10.1007/978-94-009-7707-5_4Search in Google Scholar

Fenlon, Jordan, Denmark, Tanya, Campbell, Ruth, and Woll, Bencie 2007. Seeing sentence boundaries. Sign Language & Linguistics, 10 2 177–200.10.1075/sll.10.2.06fenSearch in Google Scholar

Gil, David 2014. Sign languages, creoles, and the development of predication. In: Newmeyer, Frederick J., and Preston, Laurel B. (eds.), Measuring grammatical complexity, 37–64. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199685301.003.0003Search in Google Scholar

Goddard, Cliff 2013. English Valency Patterns. In: Hartmann, Iren, Haspelmath, Martin, and Taylor, Bradley (eds.), Valency Patterns Leipzig. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.Search in Google Scholar

Hartmann, Iren, Haspelmath, Martin, and Taylor, Bradley (eds.) 2013. Valency Patterns Leipzig. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.Search in Google Scholar

Haspelmath, Martin 2014. Arguments and Adjuncts as Language-Particular Syntactic Categories and as Comparative Concepts. Linguistic Discovery, 12 2.10.1349/PS1.1537-0852.A.442Search in Google Scholar

Haspelmath, Martin 2015. Transitivity prominence. In: Malchukov, Andrej, and Comrie, Bernard (eds.), Valency classes in the world’s languages: A comparative handbook, Vol. 1, 131–147. Berlin: De Gruyter.Search in Google Scholar

Haspelmath, Martin, and Baumann, Luisa 2013. German Valency Patterns. In: Hartmann, Iren, Haspelmath, Martin, and Taylor, Bradley (eds.), Valency Patterns Leipzig. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.Search in Google Scholar

Hawkins, John A. 1986. A comparative typology of English and German: Unifying the contrasts. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Search in Google Scholar

Hopper, Paul, and Thompson, Sandra A. 1980. Transitivity in grammar and discourse. Language, 56 251–299.Search in Google Scholar

Hou, Lynn, and Meier, Richard P. 2018. The morphology of first-person object forms of directional verbs in ASL. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 31 114.Search in Google Scholar

Jantunen, Tommi, Pippuri, Outi, Wainio, Tuija, Puupponen, Anna, and Laaksonen, Jorma 2016. Annotated Video Corpus of FinSL with Kinect and Computer-Vision Data. In: Efthimiou, Eleni, Fotinea, Stavroula-Evita, Hanke, Thomas, Hochgesang, Julie, Kristoffersen, Jette, and Mesch, Johanna (eds.), Proceedings of the 7thWorkshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Corpus mining [10thInternational Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2016)], 93–100. Paris: ELRA.Search in Google Scholar

Kimmelman, Vadim 2016. Transitivity in RSL: A corpus-based account. In: Efthimiou, Eleni, Fotinea, Stavroula-Evita, Hanke, Thomas, Hochgesang, Julie, Kristoffersen, Jette, and Mesch, Johanna (eds.), Proceedings of the 7thWorkshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Corpus mining [10thInternational Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2016)], 117–120. Paris: ELRA.Search in Google Scholar

Kimmelman, Vadim, de Lint, Vanja, de Vos, Connie, Oomen, Marloes, Pfau, Roland, Vink, Lianne, and Aboh, Enoch O. 2019. Argument Structure of Classifier Predicates: Canonical and Non-canonical Mappings in Four Sign Languages. Open Linguistics, 5 1 332–353.10.1515/opli-2019-0018Search in Google Scholar

Kishimoto, Hideki, and Kageyama, Taro 2013. Japanese (standard) Valency Patterns. In: Hartmann, Iren, Haspelmath, Martin, and Taylor, Bradley (eds.), Valency Patterns Leipzig. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.Search in Google Scholar

Kittilä, Seppo 2010. Transitivity Typology. In: Song, Jae Jung (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology. Oxford: Oxford University Press.10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199281251.013.0018Search in Google Scholar

Langer, Gabriele 2012. A Colorful First Glance at Data on Regional Variation Extracted from the DGS-Corpus: With a Focus on Procedures. In: Crasborn, Onno, Efthimiou, Eleni, Fotinea, Evita, Hanke, Thomas, Kristoffersen, Jette, and Mesch, Johanna (eds.), Proceedings of the 5rdWorkshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Interactions between Corpus and Lexicon. [8thInternational Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2008)], 101–108, Paris. ELRA.Search in Google Scholar

Malchukov, Andrej 2005. Case pattern splits, verb types and construction competition. In: Amberber, Mengistu, and de Hoop, Helen (eds.), Competition and variation in natural languages. The case for case, 73–117. Oxford: Elsevier.10.1016/B978-008044651-6/50006-9Search in Google Scholar

Malchukov, Andrej, and Jahraus, Alexander 2013. Russian Valency Patterns. In: Hartmann, Iren, Haspelmath, Martin, and Taylor, Bradley (eds.), Valency Patterns Leipzig. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.Search in Google Scholar

Meir, Irit 2003. Grammaticalization and modality: The emergence of a case-marked pronoun in Israeli Sign Language. Journal of Linguistics, 39 1 109–140.10.1017/S0022226702001664Search in Google Scholar

Meir, Irit, Padden, Carol, Aronoff, Mark, and Sandler, Wendy 2007. Body as subject. Journal of Linguistics, 43 531–563.10.1017/S0022226707004768Search in Google Scholar

Mesch, Johanna 2006. Påminner nationella teckenspråk om varandra? In: Hoyer, Karin, Londen, Monica, and Östman, Jan-Ola (eds.), Teckenspråk: Sociala och historiska perspektiv, Nr. 6 in Nordica Helsingiensia – Teckenspråksstudier TS, 71–95. Nordica: Institutionen för nordiska språk och nordisk litteratur, Helsingfors universitet.Search in Google Scholar

Mesch, Johanna 2018. Annotated files for the Swedish Sign Language Corpus. Version 6. Sign Language Section, Department of Linguistics, Stockholm University.Search in Google Scholar

Mesch, Johanna, Wallin, Lars, Nilsson, Anna-Lena, and Bergman, Brita 2012. Dataset: Swedish Sign Language Corpus Project (2009–2011). Version 1. Sign Language Section, Department of Linguistics, Stockholm University.Search in Google Scholar

Nivre, Joakim, et al. 2017. Universal Dependencies 2.1. LINDAT/CLARIN digital library at the Institute of Formal and Applied Linguistics (ÚFAL), Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Charles University.Search in Google Scholar

Næss, Åshild 2007. Prototypical Transitivity. Amsterdam/Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.10.1075/tsl.72Search in Google Scholar

Oomen, Marloes 2017. Iconicity in argument structure: Psych-verbs in Sign Language of the Netherlands. Sign Language & Linguistics, 201 55–108.10.1075/sll.20.1.03oomSearch in Google Scholar

Oomen, Marloes, and Kimmelman, Vadim 2019. Body-anchored verbs and argument omission in two sign languages. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 41 42.10.5334/gjgl.741Search in Google Scholar

Pfau, Roland, Salzmann, Martin, and Steinbach, Markus 2018. The syntax of sign language agreement: Common ingredients, but unusual recipe. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 31 107.10.5334/gjgl.511Search in Google Scholar

R Core Team 2015. R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria.Search in Google Scholar

Salonen, Juhana, Puupponen, Anna, Takkinen, Ritva, and Jantunen, Tommi 2019. Suomen viittomakielten korpusta rakentamassa [Building Corpus FinSL]. In: Jantunen, Jarmo Harri, Brunni, Sisko, Kunnas, Niina, Palviainen, Santeri, and Västi, Katja (eds.), Proceedings of the Research Data and Humanities (RDHum) Conference 2019: Data, Methods and Tools, Vol. 17 of Studia Humaniora Ouluensia, 81–96. Oulu: University of Oulu.Search in Google Scholar

Salonen, Juhana, Takkinen, Ritva, Puupponen, Anna, Pippuri, Outi, and Nieminen, Henri 2016. Creating the corpus of Finland’s sign languages. In: Efthimiou, Eleni, Fotinea, Stavroula-Evita, Hanke, Thomas, Hochgesang, Julie, Kristoffersen, Jette, and Mesch, Johanna (eds.), Proceedings of the 7thWorkshop on the Representation and Processing of Sign Languages: Corpus mining [10thInternational Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2016)], 179–184. Paris: ELRA.Search in Google Scholar

Seržant, Ilja A., and Witzlack-Makarevich, Alena (eds.) 2018. Diachrony of differential argument marking. Nr. 19 in Studies in Diversity Linguistics. Berlin: Language Science Press.Search in Google Scholar

Sinnemäki, Kaius 2014. A typological perspective on Differential Object Marking. Linguistics, 52 2 281–313.10.1515/ling-2013-0063Search in Google Scholar

Slowikowski, Kamil 2017. ggrepel: Repulsive Text and Label Geoms for ‘ggplot2’. R package version 0.7.0.Search in Google Scholar

Tsunoda, Tasaku 1981. Split case-marking in verb types and tense/aspect/mood. Linguistics, 19 389–438.10.1515/ling.1981.19.5-6.389Search in Google Scholar

Tsunoda, Tasaku 1985. Remarks on transitivity. Journal of Linguistics, 21 2 385–396.10.1017/S0022226700010318Search in Google Scholar

Wichmann, Søren 2014. Arguments and Adjuncts Cross-Linguistically: A Brief Introduction. Linguistic Discovery, 12 2.10.1349/PS1.1537-0852.A.441Search in Google Scholar

Wichmann, Søren 2015. Statistical observations on implicational (verb) hierarchies. In: Malchukov, Andrej, and Comrie, Bernard (eds.), Valency Classes in the World’s Languages: Introducing the Framework, and Case Studies from Africa and Eurasia, Vol. 1, 155–181. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.10.1515/9783110338812-010Search in Google Scholar

Wichmann, Søren 2016. Quantitative tests of implicational verb hierarchies. In: Kageyama, Taro, and Jacobsen, Wesley M. (eds.), Transitivity and Valency Alternations: Studies on Japanese and Beyond, 423–444. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.10.1515/9783110477153-015Search in Google Scholar

Wickham, Hadley 2009. ggplot2: Elegant Graphics for Data Analysis. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag.10.1007/978-0-387-98141-3Search in Google Scholar

Wittenburg, Peter, Brugman, Hennie, Russel, Albert, Klassmann, Alex, and Sloetjes, Han 2006. ELAN: A professional framework for multimodality research. In: Proceedings of the 5thInternational Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2006), 1556–1559.Search in Google Scholar

Zhang, Guohua 2013. Mandarin Chinese Valency Patterns. In: Hartmann, Iren, Haspelmath, Martin, and Taylor, Bradley (eds.), Valency Patterns Leipzig. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2018-05-23
Accepted: 2019-12-23
Published Online: 2019-12-31

© 2019 Carl Börstell et al., published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

Scroll Up Arrow