A1 Journal article (refereed)
Transitivity prominence within and across modalities (2019)

Börstell, C., Jantunen, T., Kimmelman, V., de Lint, V., Mesch, J., & Oomen, M. (2019). Transitivity prominence within and across modalities. Open Linguistics, 5(1), 666-689. https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2019-0037

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Börstell, Carl; Jantunen, Tommi; Kimmelman, Vadim; de Lint, Vanja; Mesch, Johanna; Oomen, Marloes

Journal or series: Open Linguistics

eISSN: 2300-9969

Publication year: 2019

Volume: 5

Issue number: 1

Pages range: 666-689

Publisher: De Gruyter

Publication country: Germany

Publication language: English

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2019-0037

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/67814


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

Keywords: linguistics; transitivity; corpus linguistics; sign language; valency (linguistics); typologies

Free keywords: transitivity; corpus linguistics; sign languages; valency; typology

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Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2019

JUFO rating: 1

Last updated on 2021-09-08 at 09:52