(revised October 1999)
3.1 Real-Sel4.Scenario constitution (Szen-Sel)
3.3.1The tun/geschehen test
4.1 Scenario constitution and morphosyntax5 Verb valency a multi-faceted concept? 6 Conclusion Bibliography
4.2 A test procedure for Szen-Sel?
4.2.1 Inference test
4.2.2 Specificity test
4.3 Scenario constitution as a gradable relation
4.4 Verb valency
Valency has come of age on both sides of the former inner-German border. It now forms the basis of a considerable body of lexicographical and grammatical work. The table below shows a selection of valency dictionaries and contrastive grammars based on valency:
valency dictionaries for verbs:
Wörterbuch zur Valenz und Distribution deutscher Verben by G. Helbig and W. Schenkel (1969, 2nd rev.ed. 1973, 8th ed. 1991)
Kleines Valenzlexikon deutscher Verben by U. Engel and H. Schumacher (1976, 2nd rev. ed. 1978)
Verben in Feldern by H. Schumacher (ed.) (1986)
valency dictionaries for adjectives:
Wörterbuch zur Valenz und Distribution deutscher Adjektive by K.-E. Sommerfeldt and H. Schreiber (1974, 3rd ed. 1983)
valency dictionaries for nouns:
Wörterbuch zur Valenz und Distribution der Substantive by K.-E. Sommerfeldt and H. Schreiber (1977, 3rd ed. 1983)
valency dictionaries for related words:
Wörterbuch der Valenz etymologisch verwandter Wörter. Verben, Adjektive, Substantive by K.-E. Sommerfeldt and H. Schreiber (1996)
contrastive valency dictionaries:
Valenzlexikon deutsch-rumänisch by U. Engel, E. Savin et al. (1983)
Valenzlexikon deutsch-italienisch by M.T. Bianco (1996)
Kontrastive Grammatik deutsch-serbokroatisch by U. Engel and P. Mrazovic (eds.) (1986)
Kontrastive Grammatik deutsch-rumänisch by U. Engel, M. Isbasescu, S. Speranta and O. Nicolae (1993)
Valency has played a central role in dependency grammar but largely equivalent concepts (subcategorisation, complementation, lexical government) also feature in grammars that use constituency to represent syntactic structure (Standard Theory of generative grammar, Government and Binding Theory, Generalised Phrase Structure Grammar, Construction Grammar, etc.). Those concepts gained greater weight as the importance attributed to the lexicon grew, bridging to some extent the theoretical gap with the valency approach (cf. Hudson 1993). Indeed, it is difficult to see how a syntactic theory could do without encoding information about the syntactic surroundings of lexemes (or groups of lexemes) which differentiate their valency partners the complements from the non-valency elements the supplements or adjuncts. Radford, for example, discusses complementation at length, using a number of the criteria investigated in this article to differentiate English verb complements from adjuncts (1988:230-41).
Despite this success, it was felt that the concept of valency needed further conceptual clarification: Heringer was puzzled by the fact that practical applications had been developed before the concept of valency was sufficiently grounded in linguistic theory and researchers had come to a shared understanding of valency (1987:311). Vater (1978) suggested that, in the absence of a valid criterion to differentiate complements from adjuncts, the differentiation should be dropped. This article anticipates many of Jacobs criticisms discussed below but the supporting evidence is not always convincing. Jacobs coined the provocative term "Valenzmisere" (1994:5) and questioned the validity of the concept altogether. And in the preface to Dependenz und Valenz, the proceedings of the 1992 symposium of the same name, Eichinger and Eroms drew attention to a deficit which, they claim, marks out dependency and valency theory in comparison with other grammatical models, and which the symposium had started to address (1995:9).
Taking Jacobs attack on the concept of valency as its point of departure, this article aims to defend valency as a valid concept based on semantic intuitions albeit one with very fuzzy edges. I will suggest that the definition of valency should be separated from the description of valency partners, and will argue that a definition that does not contradict prototypical valency and non-valency cases, but is partially indeterminate, is preferable to a sharp multi-faceted definition that relies on criteria which individually do contradict prototypical cases. I will also try to show why no satisfactory distinguishing criterion can be found.
This necessarily brief and selective account attempts to highlight the main developments before Jacobs criticism of the valency concept. It is generally recognised that the credit for introducing the term valency into linguistics has to be attributed to Lucien Tesnière. As is well known, it was originally used as a technical term in chemistry to denote the number of atoms of hydrogen an atom or chemical group is able to combine with to form a chemical compound. Tesnière puts it like this:
The chemical metaphor establishes valency as a relationship between unequal elements: one element has "hooks", is "unsaturated" and can bind other (complete) elements, the complements. The relations between the elements are thus part of the unsaturated element. This is of course exactly how (mathematical) functions work but the parallel between the valency approach and the predicate calculus is of limited use, as will be shown below.
Tesnière introduces valency long after the dichotomy "actant - circonstant" which he bases on the idea of a simple sentence as a slice of dramatic action ("un petit drame"). The verb "expresses" a process, the "actants" actors and the "circonstants" circumstances. The key sentence for my analysis is:
Thus Tesnière introduces "actants" semantically through the identification of participants in the "process" (event/scenario).
Tesnières remarks on the relationship of the planes of form and content ("plan structurale" vs. "plan sémantique" (Tesnière 1966:40-8)) are more complex and not entirely consistent, but in view of the semantic basis of Tesnières distinction, it is remarkable that the more influential followers of Tesnière in Germany (U. Engel, G. Helbig, H.J. Heringer) initially opted for a syntactic concept of valency.
This did not mean rejecting the idea that valency was grounded in the meaning of the verb:
The hope was to define valency adequately through its expression in syntax: the reasons for a syntactic concept of valency were methodological and in tune with classical structuralist thinking and the then contemporary approach in generative grammar. The search was thus on for a criterion that would separate complements from adjuncts in given sentences, and thus identify the complement classes with which a lexeme combines. Even as late as 1988, Welke wrote that the need to distinguish complements from adjuncts was the most discussed issue in valency research (1988:21). Despite great efforts no satisfactory criterion was found.
It is important for my argument to realize that valency grammarians were not content simply to construct different concepts of valency and apply them consistently. There was by and large agreement about prototypical instances of valency and non-valency against which criteria could be assessed: Heringer finds it astonishing that, during the historical discussion on the difference between complements and adjuncts, researchers always presumed the difference that they wanted to establish in the course of their work. He concludes that a notion of the difference was available to researchers but not a definition (Heringer 1984:35).
Also, criteria were not always strictly adhered to in applied work: Eisenberg remarks that the entries for individual verbs do not differ between the Leipzig (Helbig & Schenkel) and the Mannheim (Engel/Schumacher) valency dictionaries to the extent that could be expected from the different valency concepts. In their applied work neither of the two teams of authors had exactly adhered to their respective theoretical claims. He comes to the same conclusion as Heringer: in most instances, researchers would know quite well which prepostional phrases were valency bound and which were not (Eisenberg 1994:298).
For example, the adverbial phrases of verbs like wohnen, stehen, liegen, and sitzen were considered as complements in the "Kleines Valenzlexikon" of 1976 although Engels subclassification criterion (see 3.7) does not cover those. This is justified by their obligatory status or a high level of speaker expectation of their occurrence. Engel & Schumacher emphasize that there cannot be a "proof" of the valency status in such cases, nor could frequency counts decide the classification (1976:69f).
Engel later gave greater weight to obligatoriness as a second criterion, allowing only obligatory adverbial phrases as complements. However, both bleiben and stattfinden are listed with an adverbial complement in his Deutsche Grammatik (1988:215):
This approach is sensible. If adverbial phrases can be complements at all, why should there not be optional complements among them? It is the criteria that are at fault.
Though good valency criteria initially had to be syntactic (syntactic valency), semantic restrictions of lexemes on their surroundings were soon integrated into the model (both in terms of semantic features and semantic/thematic roles = semantic valency). Pragmatic conditions on changes in valency (pragmatic valency) and differences between logical representations (logical valency) and the valency structure of actual lexemes were also observed. Thus valency took on the appearance of a layered cake with syntactic valency as the base. Still, the different "valencies" were considered as aspects of a single valency phenomenon, rather than as different phenomena altogether, and, despite some doubts, the hope persisted that a criterion could be found that would correctly distinguish complements from adjuncts not by accident, but because it reflected the essence of valency.
These assumptions were challenged by Jacobs whose typescript "Kontra Valenz" had been in circulation since 1986. His criticism centred on the lack of a consistent definition
By emphasizing that none of the attempts to arrive at a precise definition had succeeded (i.e. none were accepted by the majority of valency grammarians), Jacobs accuses the valency research community of having got into a philosophical tangle: the term valency and the metaphorical images that are evoked by it made valency grammarians look for an object, a unified phenomenon, where there was none. Jacobs position can be summarised as follows:
In subsequent publications, Jacobs reduced the selectional relations but, apart from the irrelevant selectional relation "exocentricity", I will list all of them:
(As the abbreviation "Bet-Sel" (= Beteiligtheit) will be used more congruously for a different relation later on I have replaced Jacobs abbreviation by "Rel" (= Relationalität).)
These "partner binding relations" ("Begleiterbindungsbeziehungen") were arrived at by comparing a prototypical complement with a prototypical adjunct:
Real-Sel: Herrn Meier is obligatory (apart from elliptic use and particular environments: Peter kann rasieren.), auf der Wiese is optional.
Rel-Sel is based on Tesnières distinction between "actants" and "circonstants" which is seen as captured in a division of Fillmores original semantic roles (1968:24f.) into +Rel (Agent, Patient, ...) and -Rel roles (Location, Time, ...). The role of instrument remains undecided. Herrn Meier is +Rel, auf der Wiese is -Rel.
Arg-Sel draws on a semantic representation which correctly reflects the intuitive propositional content of the sentence in question and which does not ignore natural language correlates of argumentivity ("natürlichsprachliche Korrelate der Argumenthaftigkeit"; Jacobs 1994:17). As semantic representations using the predicate calculus can have a variety of forms, the decision will in the most crucial cases depend on these "correlates". The best candidate for this turns out to be the "tun/geschehen test": if a phrase cannot be taken out of a sentence and paraphrased in a co-ordinated commenting sentence it is an argument.
Herrn Meier is an argument, auf der Wiese is not.
Form-Sel applies to Herrn Meier in (3) as the accusative is selected by rasieren while no form feature of auf der Wiese is selected by schlafen in (4).
Sort-Sel applies as rasieren assigns the role of patient to Herrn Meier and for literal use requires fillers for that slot either to have the feature [+anim] if not [+higher animal], or to be perceived as such. The role location of auf der Wiese is not dependent on schlafen, as substitution of schlafen by other verbs shows. Also, no particular semantic restrictions are imposed on the slot filled by auf der Wiese. Thus Sort-Sel does not apply.
Both Form-Sel and Sort-Sel have a derived relation which I include in the relation proper (Jacobs later dropped the differentiation (1994:71f) - see §3.4.0).
Info-Sel is based on Heringers association experiments (1984:45ff.; 1986:83ff.). Informants were confronted with verbs in the infinitive and asked to formulate questions about the respective actions, processes or states. A quantitative analysis was carried out and candidates for complements were ranked: all the traditional complements outranked adjuncts apart from the genitive complement. By analogy, the question wen? for rasieren would outrank the question wo? for schlafen and is thus +Info, while the latter is -Info.
The six relations are of course as problematic as they were when used in valency definitions. The following points should be considered:
- Different degrees of obligatoriness can be differentiated (as was indicated above). - It is by no means always obvious whether the form features of an element are determined by another element and, if so, which element determines them (cf. Eisenbergs attempt to show that the cases in locative complements (Sie wohnt unter dem Dach. vs. Sie zieht unter das Dach.) are verb-selected (1994:295-6; cf. also Zifonuns justified reservations about this attempt (1995:179-80)). - Sort-Sel relies on semantic roles which pose well-known difficulties. - Info-Sel turns graded empirical findings into a two-valued relation. The assignment of values could theoretically change with new test results. For verbs that have not been tested, an extrapolation from existing results is required (presumably using intuitive judgements).
Jacobs suggests that a number of empirical implications between the relations apply (1992:96):
1. +Form / +Real / +Info > +Sort > +Arg 2. +Real > +Info
(If a clause element is +Form or +Real or +Info, then it is also +Sort. If a clause element is +Sort, then it is also +Arg, if it is +Real, then it is +Info.)
Jacobs expects the implications of 1 to be relative universals (i.e. phenomena with a high statistical probability) (1994:64). He also speculates that these implications reflect stages of the grammaticalisation of arguments: historically, argumentivity would have been a precondition for semantic restrictions to apply, which in turn would have been a precondition for formal determination (1994:66f, 71).
With the stipulation of the above implications, Jacobs challenged valency theory to look beyond classificatory questions. This challenge was taken up as will be shown later.
An assessment of the validity of Jacobs implications presupposes unambiguous applicability of the individual relations (which is wanting for some). I will not discuss the implications as such but pursue the more modest aim of comparing the individual relations with common valency classifications.
Jacobs considered all six "partner binding relations" as equally valid attempts at arriving at a precise valency definition. In this section, I discuss how these relations perform when further valency examples are considered. I use Jacobs methodology and show that none of his relations, with the possible exception of Info-Sel, separate fairly prototypical complements from prototypical adjuncts. The valency examples below are to varying degree less prototypical than Herrn Meier in (weil) Peter Herrn Meier rasierte (cf. sentence (3) in section 2.) but all are of types classified as complements in applied work such as Helbig & Schenkel (1969), Engel & Schumacher (1976), Schumacher (1986), and also in Heringer (1996).
I also widen the investigation to include two relations that also meet Jacobs criteria (specificity and synsemanticity).
(5) Sie isst eine Torte. -Real
(6) Sie isst.
eine Torte in (5) is truly optional. This means that Real-Sel cannot separate complements from adjuncts in accordance with applied valency work.
Rel-Sel ("Beteiligtheit") is based on a controversial distinction in Fillmores original set of roles. Some of Fillmores roles are relational (+Rel), some are not (-Rel): while it only makes sense to talk about an agent or patient, for example, in relation to a particular scenario, places and times are independent of particular scenarios, and can therefore be classed as non-relational. This distinction might well be defensible as it largely coincides with that between synsemantic and autosemantic phrases. However, it is, from the point of view of valency, the wrong kind of distinction because it ignores one of the basic tenets of valency theory (post Tesnière): each clausal element should be assessed for its particular relation to the verb and not be sorted on categorial grounds. Thus clause elements denoting places can have different relations:
|(7)||Sie erholte sich in Venedig.||Locative||(-Rel)||(supplement)|
|(8)||Sie wohnte in Venedig.||Locative||(-Rel||(complement)|
|(9)||Venedig hat sie krank gemacht.||Agent/Locative?||?||(complement)|
But Rel-Sel does not only contradict common valency analyses, it is also a misnomer: only in (7) is the place phrase "unbeteiligt" (uninvolved) in an informal sense. In (8) and (9) it is clearly involved in constituting the scenario. This is not acknowledged by Rel-Sel for (8) while it is not clear whether the role of agent or locative should be attributed to Venedig in (9): relational and non-relational roles overlap here due to their inconsistent conception. While the non-relational roles ignore any perspective a verb might shed on a scene, the +Rel roles incorporate such a perspective to a degree: they are not just abstractions of relational features such as "acting vs. non-acting" this would give two "actors" for verbs such as kaufen, verkaufen but also reflect the syntactic function of the phrase that refers to an "actor". However, in encoding a verb perspective they only go half-way. Subjects and passive von-phrases refer to agents alike while undoubtedly they encode a different perspective on a scene. Whatever use Rel-Sel might have, it is, despite its name, notionally and extensionally not compatible with the valency idea.
Arg-Sel is beset with certain very specific difficulties. These derive from the fact that the argument relation is not a grammatical but a logical relation. Formal logic and grammar, however, have different aims in principle. Formal logic aims at reproducing intuitively valid inferences through a strictly rule-governed procedure. Any formulization that can be used for this purpose is a good formulization. Thus Sie legt das Heft auf den Tisch. could be represented as
|(10)||legt (sie, das Heft, auf den Tisch)||or||auf(legt(sie, das Heft), den Tisch)|
The fact that Sie legt das Heft is not a grammatical sentence need not worry the logician. There is also no logical reason why most verbs should not be represented by predicates that feature argument slots for place and time, in order to be able to reproduce intuitive inferences such as Wenn Peter schläft, dann schläft er irgendwann irgendwo.
For the appeal to semantic representation to be decisive, one particular representation must be introduced. Arg-Sel would then be as consistent as are the reasons used for determining arguments vs. higher predicates in that representation.
Jacobs does not introduce a semantic representation but relies on the tun/geschehen test to limit the logical representations that are allowed. It is therefore in effect this test that decides Arg-Sel, and I will discuss it in some detail. I apologise to the reader for the artificiality of the test-sentences that are to follow (which by itself limits the applicability of such tests). The discussion might nevertheless be of interest as the tun/geschehen test was originally used as a valency test: the geschehen test featured in Helbig & Schenkel (1982:38-46). It was chosen by Eroms as the valency test (1981:44-50). An equivalent do so test (see below) was suggested for English by Somers (1987:17) and was also used by Radford (1988:234).
My discussion draws on Storrers assessment of the test. She mainly discusses the test as a valency test (Storrer 1992:63, 77, 85-7, 216-25) but most of the criticisms also apply to it as a test for argumentivity. My findings criticise the test more conclusively as a valency test.
The tun/geschehen test, as introduced by Jacobs (1994:17f.), involves the following steps:
The proviso that the tested phrase has to occur verbatim in the second, commenting sentence prevents the test from being inconclusive in many cases, as any entity can, with a little imagination, be perceived as a "victim" of an event (Markus bediente den neuen Gast. ==> Markus bediente, und das geschah dem neuen Gast.).
The tun/geschehen-test has serious flaws:
As far as the arbirariness of the arrangements is concerned, the question is a simple one. Why limit the test to certain verbs, and insist on anaphoric reference to the original sentence and co-ordination of the two sentences? (All these restrictive devices make more phrases fail the test.)
Secondly, the outcome of the test is often not clear-cut as the grammaticality of the resulting sentence can be a matter of opinion. For example, if the test on
Thirdly, and this is a substantial point, the verbs geschehen and tun do not function in the same way and have to be considered separately. Geschehen establishes a relationship between a scenario and reality as a whole (Das geschah.) or an entity (Das geschah ihr.) or a circumstantial aspect (Das geschah hier.). Therefore it does not function as a proverb in the sense that it could replace another verb. As Storrer has pointed out, it has its own valency (1992:80-2, 220f.):
(13) does not prove anything about the argumentivity of eine Torte, just as (3a) does not prove anything about the argumentivity of Herrn Meier. Both test sentences are ungrammatical because of the syntactic valency of geschehen alone.
Regardless of how the grammaticality of the test sentence in (14) is viewed, the test again fails to apply. The semantic valency of geschehen has changed the semantic role of seiner Freundin from beneficiary to patient: the test sentence does not have the same meaning as the input-sentence. (The labelling of the role is debatable. What is important is to realize that the relationship between the dative and the two verbs is not identical.)
A defender of the test might claim that the valency of geschehen simply demonstrates why it was chosen for the test in the first place: the arguments, whether realised or not, (together with the tested verb) are "thematised" by the subject of geschehen and therefore cannot occur as rhematic elements. This, however, makes the test procedure quite superfluous in most cases: it could be substituted by studying the valency of geschehen. My dative examples below show that neither the test nor the valency of geschehen are reliable indicators of argumentivity.
The failure of geschehen to test accusative objects and beneficiary datives for argumentivity might be seen as negligible as there is little or no doubt about their argument status anyway. This is not so with the so-called free datives, and the geschehen test is also not applicable to the majority of them. The test might work for some instances of the dativus incommodi:
|(15)||Dem Koch ist das Essen verbrannt.||==>||Das Essen ist verbrannt, und das geschah dem Koch.|
|(16)||Dem Gast ist das Essen verbrannt.||==>||?Das Essen ist verbrannt, und das geschah dem Gast.|
The question is whether the dative denotes the person in whose sphere of responsibility the misadventure happened in both the input and the test-sentence. This is so in the first pair of sentences (15) and the test does not classify dem Koch as an argument. In the second pair (16), however, while the guest is seen as responsible in the input sentence due to its construction, he is arguably seen as the victim that was not involved in the cooking process in the test sentence. The reason is pragmatic: cooks cook, guests do not. But a change in meaning implies that the test is not applicable.
The test is applicable with verbs that have similar meaning and share the construction with geschehen:
|(17)||Der Nachbarin ist ein Unglück passiert.||==>||Ein Unglück ist passiert, und das geschah der Nachbarin.|
|(18)||Der Nachbarin ist ein Unglück zugestoßen.||==>||*Ein Unglück ist zugestoßen, und das geschah der Nachbarin.|
The test does not classify the dative phrase of passieren as an argument. (The same applies to geschehen itself.) This, however, is rather surprising, particularly in comparison with the dative of zustoßen, which the test shows to be an argument, consistent with our expectations. The reason for this contradiction is obvious: the test result of passieren is not informed by argumentivity but by the true optionality of the dative phrase. Though this explains the contradictory test results, the reliability of the test is rather undermined. (Arguably, the stronger claim that passieren has two closely related readings (one with and one without dative) could be entertained in defence of the test.)
The test is also applicable to autosemantic prepositional phrases and adverbials, and for these it can be used to establish argumentivity (but, strictly speaking, not non-argumentivity!), though doubts remain about grammaticality judgements on artificial sentences for which it is difficult to imagine any use. Also, factors other than argumentivity such as optionality or the number of phrases in the tested sentence might affect the grammaticality of test sentences (cf. Eroms 1981:45-50).
The use of tun in the test can be seen as linked to tun as a colloquial/regional quasi-modal or auxiliary verb:
The verb tun can have a variety of functions in this capacity: it can function in a similar way to do but more often than not it lacks any emphasising effect. It can also indicate the ongoing and/or concurrent nature of an activity. It might also simply be motivated by the desire to postpone the choice of verb. When the dependent infinitive construction is replaced by a pro-form the use becomes standard:
Unlike geschehen, the valency of tun, like that of modal verbs, is restricted to a verbal complement (Verbativergänzung), the other complements being dependent on the second verb:
This allows the tun test a wider application than the geschehen test. However, tun can hardly be used with verbs featuring subjects that denote an inactive entity:
The usefulness of tun is further restricted by often inconclusive test results:
|(24)||Er isst einen Apfel.||==>||?Er isst, und das tut er einen Apfel.|
An indulgent approach to the grammaticality of the resulting sentences might lead to the conclusion that tun tests for obligatoriness rather than argumentivity.
Finally,the rationale for the geschehen/tun test is that clausal elements which can be separated from their governing verb can be construed as predicates, or at least do not have to be seen as arguments. This rationale is compatible with any means of making a clause element part of a commenting sentence, e.g.:
|(25)||Er ärgerte sich über die Steuererhöhung.||=>||(?) Er ärgerte sich. Das tat er über die Steuererklärung. Er ärgerte sich. Geärgert hat er sich über die Steuererklärung.|
Such a "Satz-Test", however, would clearly test for obligatoriness (Welke 1988:346).
To summarise: Jacobs offers no satisfactory operational procedure to secure Arg-Sel. The relation runs into similar problems to that of valency. An appeal to the practice of the majority of semanticists or to a particular semantic model would only help to the extent that they might offer criteria for argumentivity beyond appeal to semantic intuition. In defence of Arg-Sel it could be argued that the idea of what is a "natural" argument (not: what is logically possible) is somewhat clearer than the notion of valency and can be supported by semantic considerations. Indeed, I will show below that Arg-Sel provides a route to the intuition on which valency is, in my opinion, based.
Even with a sympathetic assignment of Arg-Sel values, however, the relation fails to identify predicative complements:
Semantically, den Aussitzer is a predicate taking ihn as an argument to form a proposition which is the second argument of nennen. However, valency grammarians are quite adamant that
Thus Arg-Sel does not separate complements from adjuncts satisfactorily despite being the most promising relation so far. (Therefore the term argument is often used as a substitute for complement, in effect stripping it of its logical-semantic content, and applying it to clause elements rather than semantic units (cf. Engel 1996:226, footnote 22). This is not the usage intended by Jacobs and investigated here.)
To conclude this section, I will briefly discuss the do so test which fares only slightly better than the geschehen/tun test. The test requires co-ordination of the sentence containing the tested clause element with a do so phrase: complements cannot be repeated, although adjuncts can be. E.g.
Somers (1987:18) points out that the do so test can neither test for adjunct status (as adjuncts can, but do not have to be, pronominalized), nor for the subject, but otherwise it has a wider application than either of the German tests. However, do so fails to pronominalise complements in certain contexts and sometimes must pronominalise adjuncts:
In both cases, the choice of different contexts would lead to the correct result but if the test results have to be checked against ones intuitive semantic judgement, one might as well rely on the latter in the first place.
Whether they are used to test for argumentivity or valency, both the geschehen/tun test and the do so test are, in suitable contexts, better used simply to illustrate the difference between arguments or complements on the one hand and non-arguments or adjuncts on the other than as diagnostic tools.
The next relation to be discussed, Form-Sel, can be used when form features of a phrase are determined by a particular verb lexeme and thus have to be recorded in the lexicon, rather than being derivable through general rules.
Undoubtedly, Form-Sel is the most important relation in the description of complements. This is so because forms are tangible and because form features are particularly important for foreign language learners. Therefore Form-Sel is central to valency dictionaries. This does not necessarily mean that Form-Sel is suitable for sorting complements from adjuncts, however.
Jacobs rather restrictive definition of Form-Sel can be paraphrased as follows:
A constituent X of a sentence is +Form in relation to another constituent Y (in this case: the main verb), if and only if at least one form feature of X is determined by Y (= the fact that a constituent with this form feature can accompany Y in this sentence is a specific property of Y). (Cf. Jacobs 1994:22)
For example, in
The genitive of zusätzlicher Finanzmittel is determined by the verb bedürfen. It is a specific property of bedürfen that it can (and indeed must) be accompanied by a phrase in the genitive. The genitive cannot be derived from general syntactic rules (most verbs do not accept a genitive constituent) or from semantic rules (the entity that is needed does not have to be expressed through a genitive phrase), as (32) shows:
(The idiosyncracy of the genitive with bedürfen is underlined by the fact that it might have been replaced by the accusative without historical efforts to preserve it; cf. Engelen 1975:66).
Originally, Jacobs wanted to limit Form-Sel to features that cannot be predicted. He defined the notion specific property of Y as encompassing all properties P of Y (or the lexeme of which Y is a form) that cannot be predicted by grammatical rules from properties of the grammatical environment of Y, or from any different properties of Y (or its corresponding lexeme) that are logically independent of P (Jacobs 1994:23).
For example, he considered the fact that passive forms can feature a prepositional agent phrase as -Form because it can be derived from the active by rules. Similar arguments apply to possessive datives (Sie massiert ihm die Schulter). However, as the rules refer back to another verb form or usage of the same verb, a derived relation applied. In the 1993 epilogue to Kontra Valenz, Jacobs combined the two relations by stipulating that the specific property must only be inherent to Y (Jacobs 1994:71f). Nevertheless Form-Sel does not identify all complements:
The form feature of the subject (subjective rather than objective) is structurally assigned. The evaluation of Form-Sel in relation to the German subject is more difficult, as subjectless sentences (e.g. Mich schwindelt., Ihr wurde gedroht.) and sentences with a postponed subject in unmarked order (Der Weser drohen ökologische Schäden.) have to be considered, as well as the possibility of expanding such sentences with the subject element es (Es schwindelt mich., Es wurde ihr gedroht., Es drohen der Weser ökologische Schäden.) Be that as it may, Form-Sel fails to differentiate adverbial complements from adjuncts:
Jacobs considers the adverbial complement in (34) as -Form.
Eisenberg suggested a different concept of form selection which is based on government (Rektion):
Eisenberg divides the relation (Rekt-Sel) into categorial government (Rektk-Sel), whereby a whole category/word class determines the form of a constituent, for example German nouns can take a genitive phrase, and lexical government (Rektl-Sel). The "paradigm category" corresponds to Jacobs "specific property" but without restrictions. In this respect Rektl-Sel can be expected to be more inclusive than the original Form-Sel. On the other hand, Form-Sel can be based on instances of a lexeme which can make Form-Sel both more and less restrictive than Rektl-Sel.
The German subject is +Rektk but -Rektl-Sel as every German verb can take a subject element. The other case complements are +Rektl but -Rektk. Thus neither subrelation can determine the set of complements. The combined relation Rekt seems to fare better. Eisenberg claims that in der Innenstadt in (34) above was +Rekt as the dative was verb-selected:
His analysis is controversial but, if it is accepted, adverbial adjuncts would also be +Rekt as Zifonun pointed out (1995:179f):
The dative in (35) would have to be seen as +Rekt. (A parallel case could be based on directional complements if directional adjuncts are accepted: Sie schimpfte aus dem Fenster. Er rief in den Nebel.)
Rekt-Sel can therefore not separate traditional complements from prototypical adjuncts. Eisenbergs syntactic notion of valency reaches far into traditional adjuncts, contradicting the practice of applied valency work.
While form relations (under whichever interpretation) are central to grammatical description and arguably more important than valency, they cannot supply a criterion that reflects or explains the practice of valency grammarians.
Sort-Sel is the semantic counterpart to Form-Sel: it specifies the semantic determination of phrases by a verb. Jacobs technical introduction for Sort-Sel mirrors that of Form-Sel, replacing form features, the choice of which is specific to a verb, by content features (Inhaltsmerkmale). I will not repeat the details here.
Sort-Sel really consists of two relations: the determination of semantic features (Merkmale; SortM-Sel), and the determination of semantic role (SortR-Sel). SortM-Sel does not apply to all prototypical complements:
As anything can be disturbing, stören does not impose any selectional features on the subject.
SortR-Sel is more difficult to assess. Jacobs claims that directional complements are -Sort as every verb describing motion (fahren, gehen, schwimmen) can be accompanied by one. Thus SortR-Sel, under his interpretation, does not reflect the complement-adjunct divide. Jacobs assessment is not necessarily correct, however. The key question is: what is meant by the term spezifisch (specific) in his definition of Sort-Sel? While the ascription of a semantic role (goal or direction) is not specific to individual verbs, it is specific to a whole subclass of verbs. I cannot see how this differs from the claim that verbs of action feature an agent.
Whatever position one takes, a parallel argument to the one just made concerning Form-Sel can be made for SortR-Sel: either both adverbial complements and adverbial adjuncts are +SortR or -SortR. The same applies to certain predicative complements:
Valency dictionaries list the obligatory adjective in (37) as a complement but not the optional one in (38). Both adjectives, however, have the same semantic relation to the verb (characterisation) and should receive the same SortR-Sel value. SortR-Sel thus cannot be used as a criterion for complementhood.
Info-Sel is based on Heringers association experiments that measured the likelihood of certain questions being associated with individual verbs. This likelihood was interpreted as semantic proximity of the corresponding clause elements to the verbs.
As an empirical relation, Info-Sel has a different status: the measurements could be a reflection of one or several of the other relations rather than constitute a relation sui generis. If Heringers results are taken at face value, Info-Sel does not correspond to common valency analyses as the genitive object of beschuldigen attracts -Info: the informants were hesitant about associating wessen-questions with the verb. The explanation that this is due to the unusual question word rather than a lack of semantic proximity to the verb is convincing: wessen? is suppleted by warum? and womit?, both of which show higher values than with other verbs (Heringer 1985:93-5). (It should, however, be noted that warum? has a wider application than wessen? as it can refer to the reasons for an accusation rather than the presumed offence: Warum beschuldigst du ihn dessen? It is therefore unlikely that weil-clauses will replace the genitive in future as Heringer speculates (1985:94-5). A preposition, for example mit because of womit? seems a better candidate.)
If Heringers explanation about the low score of wessen? is accepted, Info-Sel reflects the traditional complement-adjunct divide and can be seen as evidence for its validity. I discuss Info-Sel further in 4.3.
Jacobs does not believe that specificity (Spez-Sel) supplies a valid definition of valency because it fails to separate prototypical instances of valency from prototypical instances of adjuncts.
Specificity (Subklassenspezifik, originating from subcategorisation in generative grammar), the main criterion used by Engel, is solely based on distribution. It says that complements are specific to (semantic) subclasses of verbs (i.e. are only combinable with these subclasses) while adjuncts are aspecific (i.e. can be combined with any verb in principle):
While the criterion is not without problems, critics sometimes fail to appreciate that specificity is based on classes rather than individual phrases (e.g. Eisenberg 1994:297). The claim is not that each individual adjunct is combinable with every verb; rather, we should consider general classes. This proviso means that semantic incompatibilities are not allowed to determine Spez-Sel. For example:
(39) *Die Aufführung beginnt sehr um 7 Uhr.
The sentence is ungrammatical as beginnen is not scaleable. However, other "grading particles" can be combined with beginnen:
(40) Die Aufführung beginnt bereits um 7 Uhr.
(The particle bereits grades the start of this particular performance in relation to others.)
So far there is no reason to assume that the class of particles subclassifies verbs, though individual ones can do so, for example sehr. According to Engels constructionist view, the complement-adjunct-divide depends on the choice of adjunct classes: if relatively small ones are chosen, the divide disappears (1994:101).
Subklassenspezifik would likewise classify a case complement as non-specific (and demote it to adjunct) if different instances of it were combinable with every verb without any particular instance being combinable with all verbs: the individual phrase does not matter, apart from being a representative of a class, or forming a class of one member.
Jacobs maintains that the underlined phrases in both his example sentences are specific to verb subclasses:
(41) (weil) Peter Herrn Meier rasierte
(42) (weil) Peter auf der Wiese schläft
I agree with his conclusion concerning the accusative phrase in (41). However, I am less happy with the reasoning that led to it: Jacobs replacement of rasiert by hofft can be judged as inconclusive, as Herrn Meier in the interpretation of (41) is strictly speaking not semantically compatible with hoffen. A different verb should have been chosen, e.g. lachen.
Jacobs assessment of the place adverbial in (42), however, has to be rejected. In order to show the commutation class of auf der Wiese as +Spez, Jacobs replaces schläft with tot sein (1994:26):
(43) ?? (weil) Peter auf der Wiese tot ist
The replacement is rather infelicitous as many valency grammarians would consider sein rather than tot sein as the verb in (43), avoiding the necessity to list as verbs all adjectives that can be used predicatively (cf. Engel 1994:152f). But if tot sein is accepted as a verb for the sake of the argument, the oddness of (43) does not qualify place adverbials as +Spez, as it is semantically motivated (tot sein is not linked to particular places, therefore mentioning a place violates the conversational maxim "Be relevant"). The oddness disappears in contexts where a place adverbial is either relevant (44) or evocative (45):
(44) (weil) Peter in ihrem Traum tot war
(45) (weil) Barschel bereits in der Badewanne tot war
Spez-Sel constitutes an additional valid relation in the sense of Jacobs. Indeed, he himself takes a more conciliatory approach towards Spez-Sel in his 1993 epilogue to Kontra Valenz but for different reasons than the ones I have discussed: he claims that Spez-Sel is valid if the direction of combinational restrictions is taken into account: only the ones imposed by heads are relevant, the ones imposed on heads by governed elements (adjuncts) have to be discarded (1994:72).
Spez-Sel not only differentiates Jacobs prototypical complement from his prototypical adjunct, it also provides an appealing image. If complements are verb-specific and adjuncts aspecific, this creates a distributional reflex of Tesnières tenet that complements denote participants and adjuncts circumstances, given that scenarios and hence their participants vary, while circumstances are always of the same kind. Furthermore Spez-Sel provides an elegant and precise way to incorporate valency into a dependency grammar: complements are "satellites" that are governed by a subclass of the governing category, adjuncts can be governed by all elements of the governing category (cf. Engel 1988:23, 1994:95f).
However, Spez-Sel fails on several counts. It cannot be used as a discovery procedure to sort valency from non-valency cases and there are also conceptual problems. I investigate first the two areas which the valency approach treats in a different way from traditional grammar, namely subjects (1) and adverbials (2), and then try to identify more general problems of Spez-Sel (3 and 4):
1. Spez-Sel is based on distributional data. This is its strength and its weakness. If subject elements such as it, there (It is raining, There was hope) are not assigned complement status as they do not commute, the English subject is +Spez. Imagine now a language that is identical to English apart from featuring a full (commutable) subject in every sentence. For example, instead of meteorological verbs there would be nouns: Rain is occurring, etc. Subjects would thus be -Spez and would have to be classed as adjuncts if Spez-Sel was the only criterion. Spez-Sel thus does not capture the essence of Tesnières valency metaphor.
2. Apart from treating subjects as complements, there is a broad consensus, in particular in applied work, that adverbials with certain verbs qualify as complements:
(46) Sie wohnt auf dem Dach.
(47) Sie geht auf das Dach. (directional complement)
Spez-Sel fails to identify a whole subclass of adverbial complements: situational complements. Situational adverbial phrases (auf dem Dach, in der Stadt, dann) can be combined with every verb in principle. Engel has frequently drawn attention to this (e.g. 1994:99, Engel & Schumacher 1976:96). In earlier work, he mentioned speaker expectation of clausal elements, i.e. Info-Sel, as a criterion (1970:372, Engel & Schumacher 1976:69; cf. Varnhorn 1986:3). Emphasizing arbitrariness in the definition of grammatical categories (1994:101), he does not seem to really consider specificity as a discovery procedure. The value of the criterion for him is rather that it is not restricted to verbs but applicable to all phrase building word classes and fits neatly into his structuralist dependency grammar.
Though situational adverbial phrases are not specific to subclasses of verbs, it should be noted that situational complements have different distributional characteristics to situational adjuncts: they are obligatory:
(48) *Sie wohnt.
or, if optional situational complements are allowed (there is no good intuitive reason why they should not be), there is a high chance that they will accompany the verb in question:
(49) Das Konzert findet (auf dem Dach/um 20 Uhr) statt.
But these distributional facts have to be dealt with by a second relation (Real-Sel or a statistical version of it), they cannot be used by Spez-Sel as a discovery procedure. Once situational complements are identified, one can obviously say that they are specific to semantic verb classes, and in this sense Engels definitions quoted at the beginning of this section (3.7) are vindicated.
3. The criticism of 2 shows a conceptual flaw of Spez-Sel as a discovery procedure. Complements are relational, not categorial units. They are complements of a verb, not complements per se. However, in order to be able to function, Spez-Sel has to be blind to the relational nature of complements: different commutation classes are equated on the basis of their categorial features (their form, as shown in their anaphora):
|A. Er singt||einen Schlager|
was ihm in den Sinn kommt
|B. Er isst||einen Wecken|
was ihm in den Sinn kommt
|C. Er träumt||den ganzen Tag|
während der Vorlesung
sobald er die Augen schließt
|D. Es dauert||den ganzen Tag|
|E. Sie wohnt||auf dem Dach|
unter der Brücke
wo der Pfeffer wächst
|F. Sie friert||auf dem Dach|
unter der Brücke
wo immer sie hingeht
A and B feature communication classes of the same kind because of the shared anaphora, while C is excluded as it has a different set of anaphora. D shows a partial overlap of anaphora with C, demonstrating the practical difficulties of arriving at Spez-Sel values. E and F again share the same anaphora and thus have communication classes of the same kind.
Valency status is now assigned irrespective of the environment of a particular communication class. It is assigned on categorial grounds: types of communication classes that happen to be restricted to a subclass of verbs, such as types A and B, are +Spez while types of communication classes that are combinable with all verbs, such as types of E and F, are Spez, ignoring the particular relation to the verb of the communication class in E. This contravenes the relational nature of valency (cf. Varnhorn 1986:5f.). Spez-Sel only arrives at the correct results for most complements because no adjunct versions of the respective categorial types of communication classes exist. It fails where one does, as was shown above.
4. Distributional analyses are difficult to handle. Spez-Sel relies on a number of judgements and assumptions:
|(50)||*Sie hofft die Ankunft von Herrn Meier||(ungrammatical)|
|(51)||*Sie verdächtigt ihn des Herrn Meier.||(semantically incompatible)|
|(52)||? Sie hofft auf Herrn Meier.||(semantically incompatible, unless Herrn Meier is understood to refer to an event, such as his arrival or help, etc.)|
|(53)||*Es dauert um 7 Uhr.||(ungrammatical and semantically incompatible)|
|(54)||*Sie sitzt auf das Dach.||(ungrammatical and semantically incompatible)|
As was shown above, the assignment of Spez-Sel values turns on this differentiatiation, something that is not always possible (cf. Eisenberg 1994:297). For verbs requiring autosemantic complements such as expansive (53) or situational complements (54), grammatical and semantic incompatibility can coincide, which is arguably an additional difficulty for Spez-Sel.
(55) Sie aß einen Apfel.
aus Hunger is excluded from the commutation class based on einen Apfel because it represents a different construction. (One cannot avoid using judgements on the identity of constructions by pointing out that aus Hunger is anaphorised differently from einen Apfel because establishing the commutation class has to precede identifying its anaphora otherwise one would beg the question.)
In defence of Spez-Sel it has to be said that one need not overlook the whole commutation class in order to qualify a clause element as a complement. The phrase in question can be combined with different verbs until a verb is found that does not combine with the phrase on grammatical grounds. It is then assumed that all the other members of the commutation class have complement status (commutation classes are consistently complement or adjunct). The next step involves determining the anaphora of commutation classes in order to be able to identify commutation classes of different verbs with each other, as was shown above. (Commutation classes can have complementary distribution apart from their anaphora: e.g. eine Person einstellen vs. eine Summe Geld veruntreuen.)
I have demonstrated that the identification of adjuncts is more problematic as it is not feasible to combine a clause element with all verbs. An informed guess is required. Also, the identification of adjunct classes is less straightforward. Apart from anaphora, syntactic behaviour has to be used to establish classes. If the chosen classification is too fine, adjunct classes turn out to be +Spez (Engel 1994:101).
There are more relations that differentiate between Jacobs prototypical cases (cf. (3) and (4) in section 2.):
(56) (weil) Peter Herrn Meier rasierte
(57) (weil) Peter auf der Wiese schläft
Herrn Meier in (56) is "synsemantic", i.e. the phrase cannot be assigned full meaning out of context, while auf der Wiese in (57) is "autosemantic" (i.e. has full meaning out of context). Zifonun considers "synsemanticity" (Syn-Sel) as a "complement indicator" ("Komplement-Fürsprecher", 1995:185). Obviously, not all complements are +Syn:
(58) Die Aufführung beginnt um 19 Uhr. -Syn
The relation that is currently favoured by valency grammarians, and the one that, apart from Info-Sel, performed best in our analysis, is Arg-Sel. The problem with Arg-Sel was that it depends on a semantic representation. A relation which is related to Arg-Sel avoids this, however. Participation in a "core scenario" (Szen-Sel) is based on Tesnières original insight that complements refer to entities that participate in the action, process or state denoted by the verb. "Scenario" corresponds to Sachverhalt and covers actions, states and processes. "Core" is added to indicate that the term is used restrictively, excluding any situational elements. The relation is not to be understood as extralinguistric: the division between participants and circumstances strictly depends on the meaning of the verb in question (which might be influenced by its construction). As a semantic relation, Szen-Sel is informed by pretheoretical talk about events, participation in them, circumstances of events, etc. This is the reason why linguists can have intuitions about Szen-Sel. For more or less prototypical cases, these intuitions are clear and tests are in my view unnecessary:
(59) Wahrscheinlich hat sie die Adresse im Dunkeln nicht gefunden.
In order to constitute a finden-scenario, two entities are needed: one that finds something (sie) and one that is found (die Adresse). All the other clause elements say something directly or indirectly about the core scenario: that the attempt at achieving a situation designated by the finden-scenario was unsuccessful (nicht), the condition under which the attempt took place (im Dunklen) and the speaker evaluation of the truth of the rest of the statement (wahrscheinlich).
The division between participants and non-participants looks clear-cut from examples such as the above: either an "entity" contributes to a core scenario or it does not. The idea intimates a qualitative difference between participants and non-participants. While the sphere of non-participants is differentiated (as indicated above), participants appear as equal in their function to constitute the scenario in question. Hence the insistence in many valency representations that all the complements are treated in the same way.
Though Szen-Sel is based on the same intuition as Arg-Sel, it is not exposed to theoretical arrangements outside valency theory. For example, there is no problem in classifying the referents of predicatives as +Szen. In
(60) Er nannte ihn einen Überlebenskünstler.
the referent of einen Überlebenskünstler is a participant as it clearly contributes to constituting the scenario of calling somebody something. Indeed, Szen-Sel sorts all the clause elements discussed up to now correctly (in accordance with intuition and valency dictionaries). One might say: Szen-Sel is the valency intuition. Thus Szen-Sel provides counter-evidence to Jacobs claim that valency has no conceptual content.
Szen-Sel can also, at least in principle, be extended to the valency of nouns and adjectives. Scenario constitution is replaced in such cases by object/quality constitution:
(61) Frau Meiers gestriger, mündlicher Antrag auf Entlassung aus dem Schuldienst
(62) sehr wild auf Erdbeeren
To constitute the entity "Antrag", an applicant and an objective are needed, but not a particular time and arguably not the mode of application. The object of desire is a constituent part of the "wild" quality while the degree to which this quality applies is not (neither is the person to whom it applies although he or she is an argument of the quality!).
The result that all there is in essence to the valency concept is a slight elaboration of Tesnières metaphor might be disappointing to those who have proposed that there must be a consistent syntactic reflex of this semantic differentiation. But why should this be? Possible scenarios are varied and so are their participants. They comprise participants (e.g. agent, patient, experiencer) which can hardly supply circumstantial information in any scenario and are encoded synsemantically (subject, direct object), but also participants (e.g. time, location) which typically supply circumstantial information and are autosemantically encoded in most instances, having the same form in both functions. Because of this alone, the chance that a simple/uniform syntactic reflection of Szen-Sel could be found that could be used in an operational definition be it formal or distributional is negligible.
The quest for an operational definition might never have received the urgent attention that it has in valency research, if Szen-Sel allowed a fairly clear division for all clause elements. This, however, is not the case. There is a considerable number of clause elements for which it is simply not clear whether they are +Szen or -Szen:
(63) Er hat ihr gestern ein Omelette gemacht.
(64) Sie hat die Flasche mit ihren Zähnen geöffnet.
Does the core scenario of (63) include the person for whom the omelette was made? Does the core scenario of (64) include the instrument with which the action was achieved? Such questions cannot be answered definitely, as one could argue either way. This, however, does not make Szen-Sel a vague concept with + and - values fading into each other as colours do in a spectrum. The relation is indeterminate for a number of cases but this does not invalidate the qualitative functional difference between participants and non-participants. If, for example, the core scenario of (63) is seen as making something for somebody, the beneficiary becomes a participant of equal footing and like the other participants it contributes to the formation of this core scenario. Thus Szen-Sel works for indeterminate cases like a toggle (the intuition switches). This means that attempts to replace the complement-adjunct distinction with several categories, for instance, by creating the category of "middles" for the indeterminate cases (Somers 1987:25-8) are from the perspective of Szen-Sel at least notionally problematic (apart from the fact that this simply replaces one delimitation problem by several). (Somers observation (1987:26) that middles are "a bit of both" (complements and adjuncts) is compatible with the interpretation that they could be seen as either.)
Szen-Sel can also be held responsible for the continued search for an operational procedure: as scenario constitution is so intuitively clear in the prototypical cases, it was perhaps not unreasonable to assume that all clause elements should attract a Szen-Sel value which would be determined by a criterion or procedure yet to be discovered. This assumption was mistaken, however: there is not even a criterion that has the same value as Szen-Sel for the clear cases. Thus Szen-Sel does not only lend semantic content to the chemical metaphor but also explains why no operational valency definition can be found.
This point is important: the one semantic relation that decides all the prototypical cases correctly allows contradictory classifications in a number of non-prototypical cases not because it is not clear but because of its notional content. Partial indeterminism is inbuilt in valency as scenario constitution, and no operational procedure can remedy this (it can only move away from Szen-Sel by forcing a decision, as will be shown below).
How should a line be drawn between complements and adjuncts for practical purposes? Obviously in concurrence with the prototypical cases and anywhere through the indeterminate cases, depending on the aims of the investigation. If selected verb fields are to be studied, it is desirable that more clause elements be included than is the case in more conventional lexicographical studies (i.e. those which feature large numbers of alphabetically listed lexemes with different readings). Contrastive studies will include anything of interest.
To summarise, participation in a core scenario (Szen-Sel) has the following characteristics:
The perception of elements as participants is not only decided by what is being said but also by how it is said:
(65) She lied to her parents about her grades.
The core scenario is lying to somebody about something: both the addressee and the "topic" of the lie are felt to participate in the lying-scenario. This is not necessarily so in the German translation:
(65G) Sie hat ihren Eltern gegenüber hinsichtlich ihrer Noten gelogen.
There is a greater hesitation in acknowledging the addressee and the "topic" of the lie as participants. The core scenario could be seen as one of simply lying, with addressee and topic as something that is said about this core scenario.
The difference between the English and the German sentences is that addressee and topic of the lie are more grammaticalised in the first. ihren Eltern gegenüber and hinsichtlich ihrer Noten are autosemantic, meaning the same in different contexts. They are easily converted into separate statements (Sie hat gelogen, und das geschah ihren Eltern gegenüber und hinsichtlich ihrer Noten.). Therefore they are -Arg according to Jacobs test (though Steinitz considers such phrases to be arguments and calls them Argument-Adjunkte (1992:37)).
The elements to her parents and about her grades are less autosemantic. Although the two prepositions have meaning, their application is much wider and thus their meaning less specific:
(66) She gave her report to her parents.
(66G) Sie hat ihr Zeugnis ihren Eltern/*ihren Eltern gegenüber gegeben.
(67) She told a story about school.
(67G) Sie hat eine Geschichte über die Schule/*hinsichtlich der Schule erzählt.
My assessment is supported by Engel & Schumacher (1976) who classify lügen as monovalent, though the gegenüber- and hinsichtlich-phrases are +Spez (as the above examples show).
Beneficiary phrases are another example of the form plane influencing the perception of certain roles as participants or non-participants:
(68) Er hat ihr einen Pullover gestrickt.
(69) Er hat einen Pullover für sie gestrickt.
Intuitively, (68) is more conducive to assuming a core scenario jemandem etwas stricken than (69) is to assigning a core scenario of etwas für jemanden stricken. Again, the reason is that cases are more grammaticalised than prepositions.
Thus the morphosyntactic encoding is not only the effect of verb meaning but it contributes to the definition of the event that is constituted.
Valency grammarians who favour Arg-Sel might be happy to subscribe to Szen-Sel instead. This step was explicitly taken by Zifonun who introduced scenario constitution (Ereignisbeteiligung: Bet-Sel) as a replacement for Arg-Sel (1995:183). Her definition of Bet-Sel can be paraphrased in the following way:
A clause element X is a participant (= "beteiligt") in relation to a valency carrier Y and a sentence S if and only if the referent of X has the role of a participant in the scenario/event devised by S because of the predication/meaning of Y.
Zifonun emphasizes that Bet-Sel is, contrary to Jacobs Arg-Sel, not linked to a formal representation but to semantic knowledge only (1995:183).
However, Zifonun introduces Bet-Sel as a "sharp" relation that is determinate in all cases, offering the battery of tests used in Verben in Feldern (Schumacher 1986:21) as an operational procedure:
|Gestern hat er sich über||das Essen beschwert.|
|Reduced expression.||Er hat sich über das Essen beschwert.|
|Inferred expression||Er hat sich irgendwann über das Essen beschwert.||(The inference is intuitively valid, relying on world knowledge: complaining is a speech act. Speech acts take place in space and time.)|
|Result:||The adverbial phrase is tested further.|
|paraphrase:||x intentionally causes through uttering k, that y learns that x finds z not acceptable.|
|result:||the complainant, the addressee, the utterance and the entity complained about are all participants|
The following criticism of the tests is not meant to show that any of the tested phrases are either participants or non-participants (they are all ±Szen).
I will first investigate the inference test and show that
1. The outcome of the inference test depends on how the phrase "in certain contexts" is interpreted:
Obviously, a zu etwas-phrase can only be inferred from (70a) if the context of something matching something else is given. Otherwise (71) could be inferred instead of (70b). (70b) and (71) involve semantically closely related, but nevertheless different, readings of passen. If the proviso "in certain contexts" is meant to guarantee that the same reading applies, it is uncontroversial. However, there is reason to believe that the proviso is meant to be more restrictive, differentiating between usages within one reading with the effect that more phrases pass the inference test. Rather surprisingly, Zifonun classifies the für-phrase in
(72) Er bekommt viel Leistung für wenig Geld.
as +Bet (1995:188). The phrase is optional and cannot be inferred:
(72a) Er bekommt viel Leistung.
could for example be a comment on somebody souping up an engine. Somebody else might add Und das für wenig Geld. The value ought to be -Bet. Obviously, Zifonun had a different context in mind, possibly the field of buying and selling, but the meaning of bekommen is arguably the same in both. (Admittedly, there is no natural cut off point for the differentiation of readings but the problem should not be overestimated.) If, however, the proviso "in certain contexts" is used to exclude non-transactional contexts, the same manoeuvre should result in mir in
(73) Mir ist die Vase zerbrochen.
passing the inference test (and the paraphrase test) by restricting the context to talk about responsibilities. Zifonun classifies mir as a non-participant (-Bet) (1995:187).
In my view, the inference should be based on verb meaning to make sense, not on features of a particular situation in which the verb is used. But in both interpretations of the test, the Bet-Sel values listed by Zifonun can be questioned: under the more restrictive proviso mir in (73) ought to be +Bet instead of -Bet, under the less restrictive proviso für wenig Geld in (72) ought to be -Bet instead of +Bet. In the following, I will assume the less restrictive interpretation of the test.
2. Consider the following two sentences:
(74) Er hat ihr den Tee/schlechte Nachrichten gebracht.
(74a) Er hat den Tee/schlechte Nachrichten gebracht.
It is arguable whether a recipient/beneficiary can be inferred from (74a). If no inference is assumed, this does not necessarily have to mean that the recipient/beneficiary in (74) cannot be perceived as a participant. The core scenario of (74) might simply be different from the core scenario of (74a) (Valenzerhöhung).
If one assumes the inference of a recipient/beneficiary to be valid (as every act of taking something involves taking something to somebody or for the benefit of somebody, often oneself) then the test would assign a beneficiary to most verbs: every act of doing something is for the benefit of somebody.
As was pointed out above, Zifonun classifies mir in
(73) Mir ist die Vase zerbrochen.
as (-Bet), presumably as Die Vase ist zerbrochen. does not imply that somebody caused it or is responsible for it. But even under the less restrictive test interpretation, -Bet might not be the appropriate value. As with (74), we might wonder whether two different scenarios are not being played off against each other: the dative is introduced to describe a quite different event, one in which the speaker sees somebody as responsible for what has happened. It is certainly feasible, and in my view intuitively more convincing, to judge the dative phrase as encoding a participant. Compare with a possible English translation:
(73E) I broke the vase.
Zifonuns split of (73) into an event of the vase breaking and an entity for which the event has a certain function (responsible person) is problematic. Such an analysis could be carried out for many verbs:
(75) Er rollt den Ball an die Wand.
could be analysed into an event of the ball rolling to the wall and an entity that causes it.
(76) Ihr fehlt ein guter Computer.
Likewise, (76) could be broken up into an event of a computer lacking and this event having an adverse effect on her. However, what can be divided up extralinguistically is of less interest than what is drawn together by a particular verb (usage).
The application and the results of the inference test are not always clear. The test might exclude clause elements that refer to intuitive participants. Being not only dependent on semantics but also on general (and possibly contextual) world knowledge, the inference test moves scenario participation towards a relation between extralinguistic objects.
The decisive test is in many cases the "specificity test". In the A version, the test of proof is shifted towards establishing verb fields. This means that it is not so much an individual verb but rather a whole scene that determines participation. The different perspectives of verbs on a scene are levelled and Szen-Sel is again pushed towards an extralinguistic rather than a semantic relation.
The paraphrase test (B) has one clear advantage over the A version field constitution can be motivated in this way. As an explication of verb meaning, it aims exactly at Szen-Sel. However, a number of factors might interfere with the result:
- the chosen format for paraphrases
- the chosen semantic vocabulary, in particular the valency of verbs.
The chosen format for paraphrases insures consistency of application, especially across fields. The format of the paraphrase of sich beschweren above (cf. beginning of 4.2) results in four participants. However, equally valid paraphrases can be suggested with different results:
(77) x says that z is not acceptable to him
(78) x expresses his anger about z to y by uttering k through the medium m
(77) indicates two participants, (78) five. Though the differences concern only non-prototypical complements, the test might suggest a certain precision about Szen-Sel which, in fact, it does not possess.
The tests favoured by Schumacher and Zifonun are only of heuristic value. Studying verb meaning without set procedure yields no worse if not better results.
It was established that participation (Szen-Sel) has the following characteristics as a non-gradable relation (cf. 4):
Scenario constitution/participation as a gradable concept can either be seen as replacing Szen-Sel and thus abolishing the complement-adjunct-divide or as complementing Szen-Sel by ranking complements only according to degree of participation (Szeng-Sel). There are various possible bases for the gradation. An obvious way to grade participation is to use speaker expectation. This is captured in Info-Sel. Heringers association test aimed to show the validity of the valency concept, in particular that valency is semantic, relational and gradual (1986:81). He describes the semantic phenomenon of valency thus: a verb and its complements (as arguments) form a propositional core which is predicated by adjuncts. This is virtually identical to Szen-Sel. Heringer tested 20 verbs (most of which allowed only one semantic reading) on 100 speakers. Speakers were given the verbs in the infinitive and were asked to associate questions or question words. Those with low frequency were excluded from the result; those that could be considered as obvious variants were sometimes pooled (e.g. warum? weshalb? etc. under warum?). Frequency, mean rank and mean latency of the question words were calculated and their associative verb proximity was arrived at through the formula: 10 x mean latency ÷ frequency. For example:
an wen 1.6
was 1.6 wieviel 2.4
für wieviel 20.0
Heringer assumed that the association test measured semantic proximity. As traditional complements (with the exception of the genitive complement) are more closely associated with verbs than traditional adjuncts, and as there is a noticeable jump in proximity values between the two categories, Heringer concluded (a) that valency is indeed based on meaning and (b) that the valency approach is vindicated in separating complements from adjuncts. However, as proximity values are on a scale, Heringer insisted that valency is a graded phenomenon:
Figure 1 [cf. the table above] shows that the essential questions with verkaufen are wer? was? wem? They aim at just the slots that are traditionally postulated in valence theory. In addition, our satellite system [= graphic representation of test results] shows a jump between complements and supplements, i.e. wer? was? wem? on the one hand and the remaining questions on the other. This jump, a gap, is more or less wide for different verbs and does not justify two different syntactic categories, because that would presuppose an absolute distinction where we find a transition, as has been expected within the theory of associative meaning. (Heringer 1986:86/89)
Certainly, we do not expect a categorial distinction, but this is a clear criterion of degree for the different semantic functions of complements and supplements in sentences. Hence valence theory has not been chasing a chimera, but represents an adequate intuition with respect to linguistic facts. (Heringer 1986:97)
The different values of question words like wie? with different verbs show that valency is relational (the proximity values are verb-specific).
Heringers results can be used to grade Szen-Sel. Szeng-Sel and Infog-Sel would merge and be extended to adjuncts. However, the marked difference in speaker association of traditional complements and traditional adjuncts could with Jacobs (1994:29) be taken as evidence for a binary divide with complements and adjuncts, each graded within their categories.
Another way to introduce gradation is to base it on morphosyntactic information: on morphological case or syntactic functions. Intuitively, the subject might be felt to have a greater stake in the description of an action than objects and the direct object a greater stake than the indirect object as the traditional terminology suggests. This intuition can be backed up with the hierarchy of "grammatical accessibility of clause elements" (subject > direct object > indirect object > prepositional object/adverbial for nominative languages) (Comrie 1981:148-57, Primus 1993) if the hierarchy is understood as semantically relevant (comparing referents that the statement is about with referents that are mentioned for the sake of the former; cf. Ickler 1990).
I should emphasize that I mention the grammatical accessibility hierarchy only in order to distinguish it from the valency approach. No in-depth assessment or discussion of the hierarchy is intended, and I will concentrate on its presumed semantic effects. These are best illustrated by an example:
(79) Das Reisebüro hat dem Hotel die Exkursion bereits bezahlt.
(80) Das Reisebüro hat das Hotel für die Exkursion bereits bezahlt.
(81) Das Reisebüro hat dem Hotel bereits 10 000 Mark für die Exkursion bezahlt.
The claim is that by virtue of the respective construction, different clause elements are focused upon: first and foremost the subject in all three sentences, then the accusative object (the goods in (79), the vendor in (80), the price in (81)). (79) is mainly about the travel agency and the excursion and arguably to a lesser degree about the hotel:
(79a) Das Reisebüro hat die Exkursion bereits bezahlt.
is possible, but not:
(79b) *Das Reisebüro hat dem Hotel bereits bezahlt.
This could be taken as evidence that dem Hotel is not mentioned "for its own sake" (80) is about the travel agency and the hotel (though the claim cannot be backed up through the omission test), etc. The existence of such syntactically induced semantic nuances has been disputed (cf. Wegener 1998:80-3). The problem is that the semantic effect of the accessibility hierarchy is easily overridden by changes of stress, order of clause elements, context and situation and perhaps also by the meaning of individual lexemes.
The language used to describe the semantic effects of the grammatical accessibility hierarchy is very similar to the language that could be used to describe a graded version of Szen-Sel. Thus, the hierarchy could be seen as reflecting the degree of participation (Szeng-Sel). Alternatively, it could be seen as a separate relation that introduces a "perspective" on participants in addition to their participation in constituting a scenario (denotative vs. signifikative Bedeutung). The question is whether we are we dealing with one semantic phenomenon or two. (Zifonun introduced "perspective" (PerspZ-Sel) as a separate relation from Bet-Sel (1995:183f). Her concept of perspective is directly semantic and therefore independent of the grammatical accessibility hierarchy. It always coincides with Bet-Sel.)
Though one might feel that both scenario constitution (Szen-Sel) and the semantic effect of the grammatical accessibility hierarchy are feeding on the same semantic intuition, there is an independent reason why the two should not be equated. The accessibility hierarchy is based on categorial information and the semantic effect must be the same in different context. But Szen-Sel can have different values for the same category (e.g. adverbials), depending on the governing verb: valency cannot be based principally on the grammatical accessibility hierarchy! Therefore, semantic intuitions aside, a separate relation has to be established (Persp-Sel). Needless to say that Persp-Sel would not separate complements from adjuncts satisfactorily.
Having established a second gradable semantic relation, it must be asked what exactly Heringers test measured and whether it necessarily showed that valency is a graded phenomenon. Leaving possible interference aside (connected with, for example, the infinitive form of the tested verb, or the order of question words learnt at school) either Szen-Sel or Persp-Sel might have led to the results: Szen-Sel might be responsible for the proximity gap (the tested speakers might be trying to construct a core scenario), Persp-Sel for the ranking (among the complements). In that case Szen-Sel could be defended as an absolute relation defining valency as Persp-Sel does not lead to a correct separation of complements from adjuncts. Persp-Sel would join the other inadequate relations in being used for the description of valency but not for its definition.
To summarise: participation in constituting a scenario can but does not have to be seen as graded, arguably extending to (part of) the traditional adjuncts. Syntactically induced semantic ranking of clause elements, though largely coinciding with graded participation, has to be analysed as a separate relation.
Valency partners are best justified semantically through their participation in scenario constitution (Szen-Sel). The fact that Szen-Sel is indeterminate for a number of cases should not be seen as a defect to be amended by a superior relation which is yet to be found but as an explanation for the failure of the valency research community to agree on a sharp division between complements and adjuncts.
Szen-Sel (whether graded or not) draws together heterogeneous clause elements that are not selected by any of the other relations that have been considered. For some of these relations there is a principled reason why they should fail to replicate Szen-Sel: valency is a relational concept that applies to clause elements regardless of their categorial status. Rel-Sel, Spez-Sel, Syn-Sel and Persp-Sel are category-based and therefore must select a different set of clause elements from valency. The reason why these categorial relations perform reasonably well is that most valency-selected clause elements belong to commutation classes (categories) that cannot be used for adjuncts as they are synsemantic. Thus categorial classifications and valency overlap.
Form selection itself is relational, but to the extent that phrases with shared form features have to receive the same Form-Sel or Rekt-Sel value, a categorial classification is admitted through the back door. In any case, none of the non-categorial relations produces a satisfactory description of valency partners even for prototypical cases.
The argument has led to the following understanding of valency: Szen-Sel (whether graded or not) defines valency and gives the term conceptual content. A large number of undecided cases are acknowledged and these will be decided pragmatically, using the aim of the description as a criterion. The other relations are used to describe valency. They are independent in that none of them picks out the same set of clause elements but their co-occurrence is of course not accidental but due to the way in which scenarios can be expressed through language in general and are expressed in a particular language (cf. Zifonun 1995:184f): +Szen elements are in most cases +Arg because, without reference to the entities that play a role in scenarios, nothing much could be said. They are also +SortR as most entities can play different roles in different scenarios and the particular role in a specific scenario must be assigned. Not all entities are eligible to play every role that verbs require; therefore +Szen elements are +SortM in most cases. As events can be described through different scenarios, some participants are more focused than others and are +Persp (to varying degree). These semantic relations can be subsumed under the familiar term semantic valency if the particular quality of a relation is considered (e.g. not just the fact that a semantic role is assigned, but which role it is). To some extent no particular encoding of these relations is required, as verb meaning and autosemantic complements secure the identity of the scenario. But formal differentiation of synsemantic complements makes language more situation-independent and facilitates processing. Thus Form-/Rekt-Sel encode aspects of semantic valency, keeping a balance between the form effort and the semantic differentiation achieved. Form-/Rekt-Sel, Real-Sel and Spez-Sel are usually described as syntactic valency.
It is a commonplace that syntactic and semantic valency are not in a one-to-one-relationship. The statement is based on a comparison of SortR-Sel and Form-/Rekt-Sel: semantic roles cannot be mapped onto morphosyntactic classes. The matching improves significantly, however, if combinations of roles and complements are considered. For example with sentences of the structure sub verb dat akk, an agent can only be mapped onto the subject, a recipient or "donor" only onto the dative complement, a patient only onto the accusative complement:
(82) Sie wirft ihm den Ball zu.
(83) Sie nimmt ihm den Ball ab.
Not only SortR-Sel but the other semantic relations also determine syntactic valency. SortM-Sel influences the choice between competing encodings:
(84) Sie hat dem Freund/an das Finanzamt geschrieben.
Persons are more likely to be encoded as dative in (84), institutions as a prepositional an-phrase.
Persp-Sel is by definition linked to morphosyntactic classes which can be seen to encode or effect Persp-Sel or both. Unless Persp-Sel is rejected, it cannot be claimed that the assignment of morphosyntactic classes is ever independent from or neutral to meaning. Even ignoring Persp-Sel, syntactic valency is largely an expression of the remaining semantic relations. Therefore I cannot see much sense in playing syntactic valency off against semantic valency. Obviously one can define a syntactic relation and call it valency but then it should be applied consistently and not lead to the traditional valency classification.
The different selectional relations turn out to be much more closely linked (both conceptually and factually) than Jacobs originally assumed when he relegated valency to the status of a mere cover term. (In the 1993 epilogue to Kontra Valenz, he admitted that the valency concept does not just label a loose collection of phenomena but that it refers to the frequent and prototypical co-occurrence of these phenomena (1994:71).)
Given the above, should we not take advantage of the links between the selectional relations and declare valency a multi-faceted concept, a "family resemblance" term (cf. Wittgenstein 1958: para. 66f)? Like the members of a family, the referents of the valency concept would be linked through overlapping features, without any one feature applying exclusively to all of them. A positive value for any relation would increase the valency rating for a clause element, a negative one decrease it. The most prototypical complements would only have positive values. Zifonun championed such an approach in her response to Jacobs attack which outlines the concept of valency used in the new Grammatik der deutschen Sprache of the Institut für deutsche Sprache (Zifonun, Hoffmann & Strecker 1997). She differentiates between morphosyntactic and semantic relations in the usual fashion and attributes particular importance to the co-occurrence of the two for assigning complement status to a clause element:
Wesentlich jedoch für die Zuerkennung oder Aberkennung des Komplementstatus ist die Bündelung von Relationen jeweils auf einer der beiden Seiten und der Bezug zwischen den Relationen bzw. Bündelungen auf der Form- und auf der Bedeutungsseite. (Zifonun 1995:181)
Zifonun uses a number of form relations. Firstly there is Rekt-Sel (cf. 3.4.1) which includes the controversial adverbial complements (wohnen in ...). In order to differentiate fixed prepositions from these, a sub-relation "Konstanz" is introduced (Konst-Sel: preposition fixed by a paradigm category of the verb). Other form relations are: "Fixiertheit" (= Real-Sel) which has two different positive values, and "Autonome Kodierung" (Autokod) which corresponds to -Syn. The latter is introduced as a one-place predicate and applies if the kind of encoding implies a "sentence-semantic information" that is also valid in other contexts. Although Autokod addresses the form-meaning relationship, it is claimed for the form side. (However, the form of a phrase does not necessarily decide whether it is synsemantic or not. For example: Er erinnert sich des Abends gut. (+Syn) vs. Des Abends kamen ihm Zweifel. (Syn). The commutation class which a phrase belongs to has to be considered. This is why I introduced synsemanticity as a relation.)
The plane of meaning features just three relations. Bet-Sel is considered to be a sharp relation based on the tests discussed above. Though this does not alter the fact that +Bet (like +Szen) elements are always complements, it might have a bearing on the indeterminate cases (where it is intuitively unclear what the core scenario is). The other two are "Perspektivierung" (with two positive values; PerspZ-Sel) and "Ereigniskontextualisierung" (Kont-Sel), the complementary relation to Bet-Sel.
Only the relations of the form plane are independent of each other; the relations of the meaning plane are not:
Thus Bet-Sel suffices to represent the meaning plane.
A number of regularities pertain between the planes of form and meaning:
|+Rekt / +Konst / +Real||prototyp||+Bet|
|-Rekt / -Konst / -Real||prototyp||-Bet|
These regularities still exist if Bet-Sel is replaced by Szen-Sel though it is doubtful whether there would be any instances of the last one (given my claim that the referents of grammaticalised clause elements tend to be perceived as participants). By listing the above regularities, Zifonun has responded to Jacobs suggestion that valency theory should address the links between the various "valency relations". Zifonun offers the following explanation of the observed regularities (1995:184-5):
Sachverhaltsentwürfe sind in der Regel sprachlich nur dann herstellbar, wenn Prädikatsausdrücke, die Charakteristika denotieren, kombiniert werden mit n (n ³ 1) Ausdrücken, die irgendwelche beteiligte Gegenstände unterschiedlichster Art entwerfen: Auf diese Weise wird spezifiert, was (welches Charakteristikum) wofür (für welche Gegenstände) gelten soll. Vereinfacht gesehen, konstituiert nun der Verbkomplex den Prädikatsausdruck, eine NP in einem regierten Kasus konstituiert im prototypischen Fall einen Beteiligten- und Argumentausdruck. Eine solche kasusmarkierte NP hat also zweierlei Funktionen: den Entwurf eines Gegenstands und die Markierung einer relationalen Bedeutung. Mit letzterer wird indiziert, daß überhaupt eine semantische Relation vorliegt; es wird jedoch nicht angegeben, welcher Art diese Beziehung ist. In diesem Sinne kodiert die NP nicht auf autonome Weise eine satzsemantische Information.
I should make clear that my reservations about Zifonuns approach apply neither to the observed regularities nor to the quoted explanation. Indeed, scenario constitution is seen as the cause of the various relations and regularities (which is not borne out in the way Zifonun "calculates" valencies below).
+Rekt, +Konst and -Autokod (+Syn) are valency indicators of the form plane, +Bet (+Szen) is the one on the content plane. Convergence of form and content indicators results in core complements or supplements (adjuncts), lack of convergence results in peripheral complements. Strong convergence means that all four indicators support valency status, weak convergence that one of the form indicators supports supplement status.
In the following adaptation of Zifonuns table (1995:188) the abbreviations used in this article have been put in square brackets (where they are different) with ± representing indeterminate cases. (The numbers in square brackets are the ones used by Zifonun.)
(Two example sentences that were obviously under the wrong heading have been exchanged. I assume that +Rekt under [4a] has been bracketed to express reservations about the dative being verb selected.)
The actual complement classifications shown are all within the range of values given by Szen-Sel and thus acceptable in this respect. What is problematic is the precision and definiteness of allocation that the table suggests. Does seeing valency as a multi-faceted concept really entail that, for example, the peripheral complements cannot be classified as adjuncts?
The assignment of individual values for relations is problematic, as was indicated above: +Rekt for [2a] but -Rekt for [3b] (cf. 3.4 sentence (30) in conjunction with discussion in 3.4.1 and 3.4.1 (31)), +Bet for [3a] (cf. 4.2 sentence (14)) and -Bet for [1b] (cf. 4.2 sentence (15)).
My reservations are also of a conceptual nature: the fact that Bet-Sel has a positive value for all the complements but one, and that it was chosen as the relation for the meaning plane (rather than PerspZ-Sel), suggests a special status for Bet-Sel also over and above the form relations which is not acknowledged. This assessment receives additional support from the controversial status of the one -Bet value for a complement [1b], controversial both in relation to Zifonuns operational procedure and in comparison with Szen-Sel.
As expected, the Szen-Sel values show this relation as the only one not to contradict the achieved complement-adjunct divide.
The point of Zifonuns table is to show convergence. Apart from Bet-Sel, Rekt-Sel is a strong performer showing only one negative value for a complement [3a]. However, Rekt-Sels positive values for [2a] and [4a] are very problematic as Zifonun herself indicated. (Zifonun 1995:179. +Konst for [4a] is not controversial. If Konst-Sel is seen as a subrelation of Rekt-Sel, the +Rekt value can be justified in that way.) Had a negative value been given, there would have been no convergence in these cases. This would have increased the extent to which the values of the form relations and Bet-Sel do not coincide.
My main reservation concerns the kind of concept that valency becomes under Zifonuns approach. She admits that valency is not an absolutely unitary concept under her interpretation ("kein in absolutem Sinne einheitliches Konzept", Zifonun 1995:189). Given how the relations are defined and given the values that are assigned, valency looks like a true "family resemblance" concept. This kind of concept is better than none much of our daily dealings rely on them but science aims at moving from such concepts to "classical definitions" (through genus proximum and differentia specifica). In the case of valency, such a definition is possible using Szen-Sel. Though partially indeterminate, the relation leaves valency an absolutely unitary concept. The other relations introduced by Jacobs and Zifonun can be used to describe instances of valency, and the implicational relations shown above can be established on that basis. Description and implications can be summarised as "valency phenomena/effects" and kept separate from the valency definition. There is also no reason to stop talking about syntactic, semantic, logical and pragmatic valency as long as it is clear that this is meant as description and not as definition.
Though Zifonun strongly stresses that her concept of valency is structured with the different valency indicators being prototypically (and also causally) linked, she differs from Jacobs conclusions in emphasis rather than in principle: the individual "partner binding relations" are the ones that are real and relevant, their summative labelling as valency (when strong, weak or no convergence occurs) is little better than a cover term. As Bet-Sel is not given a special status in determining valency (-Bet can be compensated) the "calculation" of valency values from the individual relations might provoke the misunderstanding that valency was something separate from them and responsible for their values.
The main attraction of Zifonuns approach is the matching of the planes of form and meaning. But to the extent that the form plane expresses scenario constitution in a unitary fashion, using the form relations for the definition of valency means doubling up. To the extent that participants do not receive prototypical form encoding, the form plane is irrelevant. Only if the form plane encodes semantically indeterminate elements like prototypical complements, does Zifonuns approach go beyond a semantic concept of valency. However, if my argument is accepted that the form of encoding influences the semantic perception, those cases are also catered for by Szen-Sel.
Clearly, we cannot prove that one valency concept is right and another wrong. However, if the practice of valency grammarians is taken as the arbiter, only the concept of scenario constitution based on Tesnières original metaphor can motivate their choices. A syntactic valency concept based on form determination would either have to exclude adverbials from complement status or promote adverbial adjuncts to it. Thus, the definition of valency must be kept separate from its description in which syntactic notions feature very prominently.
Scenario constitution is a two-valued, semantic concept that is partially indeterminate and thus explains the borderline cases that have caused so much controversy. It disproves Jacobs claim that valency is void of intuitive conceptual content. It is also preferable to a multi-faceted definition of valency which necessarily turns valency into a hybrid concept. We should acknowledge the advances in the understanding of valency which have come from Jacobs listing and definition of individual valency relations and from Zifonuns study of the regularities which exist between them. However, doubts remain about the rationale and consistent application (and applicability) of various suggested tests. Given that a clear-cut decision in each case is only something that has been asserted and that test results might be counter-intuitive, it is all the more defensible to forego operational procedures in the assignment of valency values and to rely on intuitive (but expressible) semantic knowledge.
The indeterminate cases that scenario constitution allows are not considered a weakness of the criterion as no alternative criterion exists to amend this indeterminacy: it is part of the concept of valency as scenario constitution. Any forced decision is arbitrary, mixing valency with something else.
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