Author Topic: Valency pattern  (Read 4132 times)

Offline cassygambino

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Valency pattern
« on: August 28, 2019, 06:42:48 AM »
Hello, I am currently studying for my English linguistics exam and I'm having trouble understanding the valency pattern especially the subject predicative (SP) and the object predicative (OP). I'm also having problems with the following sentence: "Between 111 and 111 lord Elgin, the British ambassador to the ottoman empire, removed about half of the remaining sculptures from the fallen ruins"
Why is the valency pattern is  A S SP V DO A? I would have answered A S V A.
Can someone explain me how can I avoid mistakes in this kind of exercise? Thank you very much.

Offline Daniel

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Re: Valency pattern
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2019, 07:53:38 AM »
"Valency pattern" is not a standard term that everyone would use in the same way. The only correct answer is whatever your instructor considers correct. Consult your textbook, notes, and instructor. If you ask others, they may have substantially different analyses (sometimes just entirely different ways to analyze sentences), or at the very least might use symbols and technical terms differently, which would be misleading for you. It really is different at different universities, etc.

Discussing online the specific content of exams, class work, homework, etc., is potentially going to be more confusing than helpful. (I'm not sure what each of those abbreviations means, and although I could guess, that's unlikely to help you.)

That said, we could discuss the broader ideas like what ways there are to analyze syntactic structure, but I don't know if that would be helpful.

At the risk of writing a confusing or misleading answer, any sort of long "valency pattern" is almost certainly an oversimplified analysis of more levels of hierarchical structure. That is, rather than writing out a collection of 4-6 symbols (as in your example), most approaches to syntax would prefer to group some of those together into phrases, in layers. Of course there are many ways to analyze syntax, and you don't always need the most precise analysis especially at an introductory level, but this means that the analysis you're working on is substantially arbitrary (a certain level of precision, unknown to us here), suggesting the warning above is especially important. There are many ways we could analyze that sentence, but only one will help you pass the exam, and we don't know what that is.

Another way of looking at this is thinking about systems of analysis like this as a kind of game, like a crossword puzzle or sudoku. Follow the rules, and you will find the expected answer, which is only "right" or "wrong" within those specific rules. There are also bigger picture questions, which you will learn about by understanding also why your instructor chose rules like that, but most of the time that's not actually on the exam (even though arguably it should be).
« Last Edit: August 28, 2019, 07:55:34 AM by Daniel »
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