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Bivalent Verb Classes in the Languages of Europe : A Quantitative Typological Study

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      Abstract

      The aims of this study are twofold: to propose methods for measuring (dis)similarities in the organization of valency class systems across languages, and to test them on a sample of European languages in order to reveal areal and genetic patterns. The data were gathered for 29 languages using a questionnaire containing 130 contextualized uses of bivalent predicates. The properties under study include (i) lexical range of transitives, (ii) lexical range of valency frames defined in terms of the “locus” of non-transitivity (whether A or P arguments are encoded by oblique devices), (iii) overall complexity of valency class systems, and (iv) lexical distribution of verbs among valency classes. In case of the simpler properties (i)–(iii), maps with quantified isoglosses and pairwise comparison of languages based on Hamming distance are used. For (iv) these methods are inapplicable (valency classes cannot be equated across languages), and I propose a distance metric based on entropy and pairwise mutual information between distributions. The distance matrices are analyzed using the NeighborNet algorithm as implemented in SplitsTree. I argue that more holistic properties of valency class systems are indicative of large areal effects: e.g., many western European languages (Germanic, Romance, Basque and some Balkan languages) are lexically “most transitive” in Europe. Low-level areal signal is clearly discernible in the data on more subtle aspects of the organization of valency classes. The findings imply that distributions of verbs into valency classes can develop quickly and are transferable in contact situations, despite drastic dissimilarities in argument-coding devices.

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      Application of phylogenetic networks in evolutionary studies.

      The evolutionary history of a set of taxa is usually represented by a phylogenetic tree, and this model has greatly facilitated the discussion and testing of hypotheses. However, it is well known that more complex evolutionary scenarios are poorly described by such models. Further, even when evolution proceeds in a tree-like manner, analysis of the data may not be best served by using methods that enforce a tree structure but rather by a richer visualization of the data to evaluate its properties, at least as an essential first step. Thus, phylogenetic networks should be employed when reticulate events such as hybridization, horizontal gene transfer, recombination, or gene duplication and loss are believed to be involved, and, even in the absence of such events, phylogenetic networks have a useful role to play. This article reviews the terminology used for phylogenetic networks and covers both split networks and reticulate networks, how they are defined, and how they can be interpreted. Additionally, the article outlines the beginnings of a comprehensive statistical framework for applying split network methods. We show how split networks can represent confidence sets of trees and introduce a conservative statistical test for whether the conflicting signal in a network is treelike. Finally, this article describes a new program, SplitsTree4, an interactive and comprehensive tool for inferring different types of phylogenetic networks from sequences, distances, and trees.
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        Transitivizing and detransitivizing languages

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          Case Pattern Splits Verb Types and Construction Competition

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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            Institute for Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences; St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia serjozha.say@ 123456gmail.com
            Contributors
            Institute for Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences; St. Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia serjozha.say@ 123456gmail.com
            Journal
            22105832
            Language Dynamics and Change
            LDC
            Brill (The Netherlands )
            2210-5824
            2210-5832
            2014
            : 4
            : 1
            : 116-166
            10.1163/22105832-00401003
            Copyright 2014 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands.

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