Re: quadrivalent verb
|From:||Eldin Raigmore <eldin_raigmore@...>|
|Date:||Monday, September 29, 2008, 22:54|
On Mon, 29 Sep 2008 12:05:45 -0400, Kenneth Asad
>I am wondering, is there any natlang - or for that matter conlang - that has
>some quadrivalent verbs?
>I am thinking about a type of verbs which has four arguements:
>an agent; a patient; a recipient; and then something fourth.
>I would imagine that quadrivalency would describe some kind of exchance.
>In fact I am thinking about an example from the english language:
> he sold the book to her for 20 bucks
>"he" is definitely the agent - and in fact also the subject;
>"the book" is definitely the patient;
>"her = she" is the recipient and is supplied with an adposition (= preposition).
>as to "20 bucks"...
>Well, it has an adposition :-) but so did "she" and this didn't stop "she" from
>being the recipient...
>As I see it, one could see "20 bucks" as being 'the exchange patient', or
>something like that.
>I haven't been able to find any other instances in english, nor my own native
>In fact in danish the sentence would be:
> han solgte bogen til hende for 20 spir
>What I'm not thinking about, though, is something like the causative voice.
This has been discussed rather thoroughly recently, whether it was on Conlang
or on the ZBB or on the CBB I can't remember.
Google for "Tritransitive".
Afterwards, separately Google for "Tetravalent Verb" or "Quadrivalent Verb"
or "Tetravalent Linguistics" or something like that.
Here's a summary of the majority opinions.
Most languages have either two or three grammatical relations. For some
languages it looks like we'll never be able to agree whether they have two or
A grammatical (or syntactic) relation (or function) is occupied by something
that's also called a "core argument". If the verb has other arguments they are
called "oblique arguments".
Another phrase some grammarians use for "grammatical relation",
is "morphosyntacically-assigned argument position" or "M.A.P.".
The syntactically most-privileged, and/or most syntactically-privileged, MAP is
called the Subject. All the others (if there are any) are called Objects.
The syntactically most-privileged, and/or most syntactically-privileged, Object,
is called the Primary Object or the Direct Object. All the others (if there are
any) are called Secondary Objects.
Many languages have ditransitive verbs -- verbs with two Objects (and hence
three Core Arguments, since the Subject is a Core Argument but not an
Object). One of the objects is the Primary (or Direct) Object and the other is
the Secondary Object.
For most languages which have ditransitive verbs, ditransitive verbs are a
minority; there are fewer of them than there are of monotransitive verbs, and
fewer of them than there are of intransitive verbs.
Many languages also have verbs which are (syntactically) bivalent -- having
two core arguments -- but not (semantically and pragmatically) transitive;
that is, the two core arguments are not clearly an Agent and a Patient.
Many languages have "valency-raising operations", processes that can
transform a verb in such a way that it adds a new core argument to the verb.
Among these are Applicativization -- adding an object -- and Causativization --
which adds an "agent of cause" or "instigator" (demoting the "original" agent
to "agent of effect" or "causee").
If one of these valency-raising operations is applied to a bivalent verb, the
result will be a trivalent verb.
The most common valency-raising operations to be applied to bivalent verbs to
turn them into trivalent verbs, are Benefactive Applicativization, and
For some languages, trivalent verbs arise in no other way. But for most
languages, a minority of their verb-roots are already trivalent in their root
For some languages, it is possible to either Applicativize or Causativize a
trivalent verb in such a way that the resulting verb is tetravalent; or to
Applicativize or Causativize a ditransitive verb in such a way that the resulting
verb is tritransitive.
For some languages with Causativization, it is possible to causativize a clause
which has already been causativized. For instance, Hindi has two different
morphological causativization processes, one for direct causativization and one
for indirect causativization; they can both be applied to the same verb, one
after the other, resulting in a clause with three agents; an Instigator, a
Causee, and a Middle Agent.
Also, some languages have both Causativization and Benefactive
Applicativization. In some such languages it is possible to perform both
operations on the same verb.
If the "original" verb is bivalent, then Causativizing it twice may result in a
If the "original" verb is bivalent, then both Causativizing it and Applicativizing it
may result in a tetravalent verb.
For some languages, there are no trivalent verbs at all. For some, all trivalent
verbs arise by causativizing or applicativizing bivalent verbs. For most
languages, there are several verb roots that are already trivalent verbs in their
root forms, but such verb-roots are definitely a minority.
For some languages, there are no tetravalent verbs at all. For some, all
tetravalent verbs arise by causativizing or applicativizing trivalent verbs. For
some languages, there are a few verb roots that are already tetavalent verbs
in their root forms.
But most languages that have any tetravalent verb-roots have only a tiny
number of them. For most languages that have tetravalent verbs, most
tetravalent verbs arise by applicativizing or causativizing a verb that is already
As for English tetravalent verbs; maybe "bet" is a good one?
You would probably enjoy learning a little about something called Relational
As a theory to explain all languages, it has fallen out of favor, because there
are some languages that can't be explained by it.
But as a framework for presenting the facts of a newly-described language, it
remains in favor, because very many newly-described languages can be
understandably described that way.
I mention this because some modern theories, for instance "Mapping Theory"
(which is the one that introduced the MAPs mentioned above), attempt to
remedy the flaws of RG while retaining its virtues.
Some linguists don't think Grammatical Relations (such as Subjects and
Objects) are really any use at all in any language. Some think they are useful
in some languages and not in others. Some think they are useful in nearly
It is controversial whether or not there are any languages with no GRs at all.
Among people who admit that some languages do have GRs:
It appears that a few languages -- Tagalog, for one -- have only one GR, the
Subject. Some linguists think some of these languages don't even have
Subjects; other linguists think every language has at least one GR (the
Subject). (Note, though, that saying every language has a Subject, does not
imply that every clause in every language has a Subject. Some languages
with Subjects also have some clauses without Subjects, by some analyses.)
Most languages have either a Subject and an Object, or a Subject and two
Objects. There are some major, well-studied languages, for which it is still
controversial whether or not they have two Object GRs (e.g. Direct and
Indirect) or only one Object GR.
Apparently, a few languages -- including some spoken in Georgia, and some
spoken in the Caucasus -- have four GRs; a Subject, a Primary Object, and
two different kinds of Secondary Object.
I hope that helps!