Word combination in a sentence is a sphere of vocabulary-grammar interaction. The interaction is based on the universal principle: the relationship of semantic and syntactic combinations of a language unit. The article analyzes the valence of English nouns derived from trivalent verbs. The semantic and syntactic characteristics of verbal action nouns (VAN) depend on the base verb (BV). The dual nature of the VAN semantics is explained by the fact that the semantic indicator of action from the subordinate becomes the leading one, and the meaning of objectness changes to the position of the grammatical factor which governs the syntactic behavior of the VAN, defines the scope of its lexical combinability, i.e. it describes the syntagmatic value of the derivate. The VANs have one important feature: nouns derived from verbs adopt the valency of the base verb in the Nomina Actionis state. The BV determines combinability of the VAN and the number of semantic actants participating in the situation (semantic subject, semantic object, etc.) which help the VANs fully reveal their meanings. The findings are based on the analysis of more than eight hundred examples containing trivalent VAN derivates selected by continuous sampling from works of contemporary British and American authors.
Keywords: Verbal nounvalencesemantic-syntactic featurediathesis
Valency is both a semantic and syntactic concept. Therefore, most studies are based on the premise that valence frames contain both semantic and syntactic descriptions of individual predicative meanings Dušek, Hajič, & Urešova, 2014). Although the concept of valence was formulated in relation to the verb (Tesnière, 1959) and gave rise to a huge amount of research, linguists drew attention to other grammatical classes of words (parts of speech) (Herbst & Heath, 2004). In our opinion, one of the most interesting research objects is action nouns derived from verbs. We agree with those scientists who associate the valence of a verbal noun with the verb from which it is derived (Fillmore, 1994).
The relevance of the study is due to the problem of valence which is analyzed based on language behavior of a large group of derived units — abstract action nouns derived from verbs.
The subject of the study is English verbal action nouns (VAN). Verbs with three actants are the basis for formation of trivalent VAN derivatives which control one subject and two objects (Tesnière, 1959). However, the terms “subject” and “object” are ambiguous: they act as synonyms for the terms “subject” and “predicate” when the formal level of the unit is characterized and as a component of the semantic structure of a sentence does not coincide with a sentence subject.
In terms of semantics, the roles of VAN can be different and depend on the situation. The list of roles (“semantic cases”) varies in quantity and quality, depending on the base for their selection and level of detail (Apresyan, 1995; Abraham, 1978; Kreidler, 1978). Semantic roles of the “protagonist” (the first participant) are as follows: an agent, a coagent, an addressee (an agent-addressee, a donator, a causator, a possessor).
The patient is a participant in the situation who is affected by the agent, the recipient is given a material object; the addressee falls under the direct action of the agent, it is a recipient of information; an objective is an object that existed before the situation began, affected by the agent; the resultative is an object, a situation resulted from of an action; the deliberate is a being / object, phenomenon which is an object of the addressee's intellectual action; the donative is an object in the transfer situation; the possessive is an object of possession.
Purpose of the Study
The aim of the work is to study actualization of the semantic-syntactic valency of English verbal action nouns
The following methods were used: descriptive, structural, and quantitative.
According to L. Tesnière (Tesnière, 1959), trivalent BVs which are the motivating basis of the derivative, are declarative verbs (speaking) and transfer verbs as well as verbs with opposite meanings (ask - answer, ask - give): (1)
According to Tesnière, VANs derived from trivalent BVs are the most difficult to use and interpret (Tesnière, 1959). Firstly, it is difficult to identify the number of actants, since the same word can have different control models and represent different meanings, cf .: (2)
The subject of the sentence is not always the semantic subject of the action, cf. (4)
Contextual uses of the VANs have been identified in two variants. They reflect aspectual meanings of the BV in the VAN semantics - ‘process’, ‘act / fact’, ‘repeatability of actions’.
The first variant is the independent, free use of a derivative, cf .: (5) (5)
The second use of the VAN is a two-component use in various modifications of the N of N. model. According to A.I. Smirnitsky (Smirnitsky, 1959, p. 247), the phrase formed by the N of N model is an autonomous unit, both in structural design and in terms of semantic integrity. Any subject-dependent word carries an element of attribute. In the phrase N of N, the definition of a name is transmitted by a noun which denotes objectivity.
Any subject-dependent word has an attributive element. In the phrase N of N, the definition of a name is expressed by a noun which means objectivity. Attached with
There are examples when derived nouns take both positions, but the trivalent derivative explicates only one component, cf .: (10)
Expression of the meaning of action with objectivity extends the variability of the syntactic use of the derived unit.
Distribution in the categorical semantics of derivatives determines a significant difference in VAN syntactic status. The main syntactic functions of names with specific semantics are the functions of the subject and the object, while the derivative can only take the position of the subject or object of the verb-predicate action, but in no case should they perform their functions, because the VAN action cannot perform an action and cannot be spread by an action. The VAN in (5) denotes an action. As a part of the sentence, it becomes an actant of a verb-predicate
Substitution of another pronoun makes the sentence impossible as well, cf .: (11b) *
VANs can perform different syntactic functions: the subject (553 examples = 64%), cf. (one); objects (553 examples = 64%), cf. (five); circumstances (76 cases - 8.9%), cf. (6); definitions (18 examples = 2.1%), cf. (9)
The study found that trivalent derivatives do not fully actualize all the semantic participants in their structure. In (1), where the VAN is used as a subject, the complete semantic structure is broken by the verb predicate
As an object, a Sub actant of the verb-predicate is the semantic subject of the VAN (see 2.4.1). In the syntactic function of the subject (218 = 25%), the VAN either indicates the Sub action, cf. (1), or hides semantic actants, cf. (14)
As a circumstance, the VAN specifies the circumstances of the action of one of the actants, therefore it can lose the need for their additional repetition. As a definition, the VAN describes the subject and does not indicate semantic actants of its action.
As for the syntactic use of the VAN, it is clear that trivalent derivatives tend to be used as objects or subjects. As circumstances or definitions of trivalent VANs, it is difficult to reflect all the components of their semantic structures. Analysis of the syntactic manifestation of a derivative is not sufficient to determine its syntactic status. The VAN relations are determined by VAN semantics. A derivative becomes a syntactic unit complicating the sentence, concentrating its meaning (Kubryakova, 2004; Kurilovich, 1962).
According to K. Sommerfeldt (Sommerfeldt, 1973), actant positions under the VAN can be occupied by different language units: 1) nouns in the possessive case, cf. (6); 2) nouns with prepositions, cf. (4), (8), (13); 3) possessive pronouns, cf. (1); 4) relative adjectives, cf. (12); 5) infinitive groups, cf. (15): (15)
Of interest is the definition of linguistic possibilities of the expression of each semantic VAN actants.
In addition to the examples identified by K. Zomerfeldt, we found those where the subject actant directly joins the VAN, cf .: (17)
The mechanism of interaction of semantic and syntactic characteristics is reflected by the "diathesis". According to A. A. Kholodovich, it describes the relationship between semantic actants of a situation and syntactic participants (Kholodovich, 1970). There are two diatheses - the initial diathesis (each semantic actant corresponds to its usual valence), and the derivative one (Paducheva, 1977). A special case of the derivative diathesis is a reduced diathesis (violation of the initial mutual relationship is complicated by the lack of syntactic valence for any semantic VAN actant, cf. (5) absent Ob2 (
The semantic actant can be omitted in a sentence for syntactic reasons: it is already expressed in the sentence by one of the verb-predicate actants: the VAN actant is identified in the sentence and is marked with (Øref) showing its anaphorical relation with one of the actants of the verb-predicate, cf. (18)
Sentences with the omitted VAN actant which can be established only within a wider context contain one more type if ellipsis. The semantic actant has no anaphoric relationship with any member of the sentence. This actant is marked by ØΣx, cf. (19)
The third type of ellipsis can be found in sentences with an absent actant. It refers to the whole range of subjects. The semantic actant has a universal character and is denoted by the lexeme ØYx, which explains the ellipsis with the quantifier of generality. (20)
Thus, four representations of the VAN semantic valences are possible: a present actant, an absent actant marked by a zero-reflexive lexeme (Øref) and the lack of relationship with a supposed quantifier of existence (ØΣx) or a quantifier of community (ØYx).
Calculation of the diatheses of derivatives shows: 1) which diathesis is actualization of the semantic VAN actant connected with; 2) which number of semantic actants does the VAN have? 3) which lexeme denotes a zero actant: Øref, ØΣx, ØYx. Taking into account all possible characteristics, 52 theoretical and logical possibilities of the relationship between semantic actants and syntactic valencies, or diatheses, were obtained (Krasikova, 2017). In speech, 22 diatheses can be actualized (see Table
As stated before, there were no cases for trivalent derivatives when all semantic actants are expressed, i.e., there is no full diathesis for trivalent derivatives (Table
The study identified 6 diathesis models where one/all semantic actants enter anaphoric relationships with the actants of the verb-predicate (Table
An increase in cases is due to the nature of the material under study. Literary texts have a limited number of active characters, events, features are specified, there are dialogues which reveal knowledge of situations. Nine diathesis models were revealed (the use of actants entering the anaphoric relationship is combined, and situations with a quantifier of existence (Table
Sentences where one of the elements of the semantic structure can be attributed to the whole range of VAN objects / subjects are represented by two diatheses. In the artistic text, a reference to a well-known fact is assumed, or the situation allows performance of the action by any VAN subject (Table
Trivalent VANs are derived from semantically trivalent transitional verbs, most of which are speech and transfer verbs. The VANs adopt their semantic-syntactic valence and are characterized by the presence of three actants at the semantic level (see 6.1 - 6.2).
Complex relationships of the VANs in the syntactic structure are determined by the derivate semantics which determines the textual use of the VAN in the sentence (see 6.3.1). The name of the action is not and cannot be the name of an object or the name of a subject of the action of the verb-predicate and represents a syntactic unit which enriches the semantics and structure of the utterance (see 6.3.2).
Of 865 sentences, trivalent derivates express objects, subjects, circumstances and compliments. However, syntactic functions do not actualize all the components of the semantic structure (see 6.3.3).
Actants can be expressed using different language means (see 6.4).
Of 52 theoretically possible diatheses of trivalent VANs, 22 diatheses were identified (see Table
Six models describe one / all semantic actants of the VAN entering anaphoric relationships with one of the actants of the verb-predicate, of which the majority are sentences where Sub and Ob2 are replaced (89 sentences = 10.3%). The share of models where three components of the VAN semantic structure are replaced is 9,6% (83 sentences), the share of models where only Ob1 and Ob2 are replaced is 7.9% (68 sentences), the number of sentences where Sub and Ob1 are replaced is 26 (= 2,9%) (see Table
There are 14 models where there is no semantic actant (it is not named) and can be restored from the previous / subsequent context (see section
Nine models represent situations when two previous characteristics are combined: one of the semantic actants of is replaced by the actant of the verb-predicate, and the second is determined from a wider context, most of the sentences are cases where the object actant 1 remains pronounced, the semantic Sub is replaced by an actant of a verb-predicate, and Ob is revealed from the extended context (110 sentences = 12.7%) (see Table
Actualization of the components of the VAN semantic structure is influenced by semantics of the verb-predicate; the positional role of the VAN; VAN semantics; grammatical features of the English sentence; a type of the text.
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29 March 2019
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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, science, technology, society
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Borisovna, K. M., Nikolaevna, S. O., Viktorovna, T. E., Ivanovna, K. S., & Alekseevna, F. M. (2019). Valence Of English Nouns Derived From Trivalent Verbs. In D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism, vol 58. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 560-569). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2019.03.02.63