What is it about?

The present introduction aims to a rapid state-of-the art retrospective examination that points towards theories of common ground and questions that remain open in order to evaluate terminology on the topic of transitivity alternations. It also presents the contributions of the issue that focus specifically on the French language and include new theoretical approaches, synchronic & diachronic analyses, empirical research providing evidence from L1 acquisition, and the typological description of a non-European under-described language.

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Why is it important?

This introduction of the special issue on Transitivity and Valency aims to a rapid state-of-the art retrospective examination of the topic and to the presentation of the key points of focus of the contributions included. Two papers discuss valency from a theoretical perspective: the contributions present (a) a new linguistic model, namely the bi-directional version of Superoptimality, within the framework of Optimality Theory (Legendre and Smolensky) and (b) a novel formal structure, namely polygraphs (Mazziotta). Two papers include diachronic data that provide evidence for valency change, juxtaposing Old and Modern French (Mazziotta) or Medieval French (MF) and other Medieval Romance varieties and their diachronic development (Wolfsgruber). We also find a contribution that adheres in the typological literature, examining a member of the Andic group of languages (Creissels). Finally, there is evidence from the field of first language acquisition (Pérez-Leroux, Pirvulescu, Roberge, & Strik) and an attempt to link the acquisitional aspect of the issue to historical linguistics (Wolfsgruber).


Writing the Introduction of this special issue was a great pleasure as it has a co-author with whom I have had long standing collaborations. The work undertaken gave me also the opportunity to work with some of the leading experts in the topic of transitivity alternations who contributed to the collection providing an examination of a variety of structures.

Dr. Georgia Fotiadou
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

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This page is a summary of: Transitivity and Valency, Lingvisticae Investigationes, December 2017, John Benjamins,
DOI: 10.1075/li.40.1.
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