Valency

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Valency (or valence) refers to the argument-taking potential of verbs, and sometimes also adjectives and nouns.

Example

the verb open is associated with the semantic roles Agent, Theme, and Instrument (e.g. John [AGENT] opened the door [THEME] with his key [INSTRUMENT]), while the verbs ran and arrive are only associated with the Agent role (Bill ran) or Theme role (John arrived), respectively.

Comments

This term has always been more widespread in European linguistics than in American linguistics.

Synonyms

The following terms mean roughly the same as valency:

Origin

The term was adopted from chemistry by Lucien Tesnière.

References

  • Tesnière, Lucien. 1959. Éléments de syntaxe structurale. Paris: Klincksieck.

Other languages

German Valenz

Links

Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics