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Valency in English

Class at Faculty of Arts |


October 7: Introduction & overview

October 14: Lexicalist approaches I overview of approaches; linking / mapping; transparency principles; thematic role hierarchies

October 21: Lexicalist approaches II: Functional Generative Description

Functional Generative Description; valency frames; valency dictionaries; the CzEngClass project

November 4: Verb classes and alternations I

November 11: Constructionist approaches arguments against lexicalist accounts; argument structure constructions

November 18: Verb classes and alternations II argument structure competition; statistical preemption; frequency & argument structure

November 25: Morphology & valency I word formation & argument structure; nominalization & noun valency; adjective & adverb valency

December 2: Morphology & valency II voice & diatheses; valency-changing derivations; cross-linguistic perspectives

December 9: Empirical perspectives on valency I the variability of valency across registers; the variability of valency across English dialects; evidence from conversation

December 16: Empirical perspectives on valency II the acquisition of argument structure constructions; priming studies of argument structure; neuroimaging studies of argument structure

January 6: Empirical perspectives on valency III second language acquisition and valency; gesture and valency


The course will extend the student’s knowledge of the valency of verbs, but will also deal with the valency of nouns, adjectives and adverbs. It introduces the tools and resources useful for studying valency (valency dictionaries, specialized databases, and syntactically annotated corpora), and it contrasts various theoretical approaches to valency (or argument structure) and discusses the results of various empirical studies of valency (including psycho- and neurolinguistic studies as well as studies of language acquisition).

Various specific issues will be addressed, including valency alternations and the interaction of valency and morphology. The course will also include practical activities and exercised based mainly on corpus data.

Study programmes