In linguistics, verb valency or valence refers to the number of arguments controlled by a verbal predicate. It is related, though not identical, to verb transitivity, which counts only object arguments of the verbal predicate. Verb valency, on the other hand, includes all arguments, including the subject of the verb.
Lexical and grammatical valency
The aptness of a word to appear in various combinations is described as its lexical valency or collocability. The noun job, for example, is often combined with such adjectives as backbreaking, difficult, hard; full-time, part-time, summer, cushy, easy; demanding; menial, etc. The noun myth may be a component of a number of word-groups, e.g. to create a myth, to dispel a myth, to explode a myth, myths and legends, etc. Lexical valency acquires special importance in case of polysemy as through the lexical valency different meanings of a polysemantic word can be distinguished, for instance, cf.: heavy table (safe, luggage); heavy snow (rain, storm); heavy drinker (eater); heavy sleep (sorrow, disappointment); heavy industry (tanks).
The range of the lexical valency of words is linguistically restricted by the inner structure of the English word-stock. Though the verbs lift and raise are usually treated as synonyms, it is only the latter that is collocated with the noun question.
The restrictions of lexical valency of words may also manifest themselves in the lexical meanings of the polysemantic members of word groups. For example, the adjective heavy in the meaning ‘rich and difficult to digest’ is combined with the words food, meals, supper. But it cannot be used with the words cheese or sausage (the words with more or less the same component of meaning) implying that the cheese or the sausage is difficult to digest.
Words habitually collocated in speech tend to constitute a cliche, for instance, the noun arms and the noun race. Thus, arms race is a cliche.
The lexical valency of correlated words in different languages is different, cf.: in English pot flowers – in Russian êîìíàòíûå öâåòû.
Grammatical valency is the aptness of a word to appear in specific grammatical (or rather syntactic) structures. The minimal grammatical context in which words are used when brought together to form word-groups is usually described as the pattern of the word-groups. For instance, the verb to offer can be followed by the infinitive (to offer to do smth.) and the noun (to offer a cup of tea). The verb to suggest can be followed by the gerund (to suggest doing smth.) and the noun (to suggest an idea). The grammatical valency of these verbs is different.
The adjectives clever and intelligent are seen to possess different grammatical valency as clever can be used in word-groups having the pattern: adjective + preposition ‘at’ + noun (clever at mathematics), whereas intelligent can never be found in exactly the same word-group pattern.
The grammatical valency of correlated words in different languages is not identical, cf.: in English to influence a person, a decision, a choice (verb + noun) — in Russian âëèÿòü íà ÷åëîâåêà, íà ðåøåíèå, íà âûáîð (verb + preposition + noun).
27. Definition of phraseological units. Characteristic features of phraseological units. V. Vinogradov’s conception of phraseological units.
Phraseological units (idioms) are stable word-groups characterized by a completely or partially transferred meaning, lack of motivation.
Word equivalents are certain word groups, their ability to function in speech as single words.
The essential features of phraseological units are:
1) Lack of semantic motivation;
2) Lexical and grammatical stability.
28. Different approaches to the classification of phraseological units: semantic, functional, contextual. A.V. Coonin’s concept of phraseological units.
Classification based on the semantic principle:
Fusions(completely non-motivated idiomatic word-groups: to bell the cat ("to take a risk for the good of others"), a white elephant (" a present one can't get rid of), once in a blue moon ("hardly at all" or "hardly ever"))
Half- fusions(stable word-groups in which the leading component is literal, while the rest of the group is idiomatically fused:
to talk through one's hat ("to talk foolishly"), to buy something for a song ("to buy smth. very cheaply"), to pay through the nose ("to pay unreasonably much"), to rain cats and dogs ("to rain heavily")
Unities(metaphorically motivated idioms:to make a mountain out of a molehill ("to become excited about trifles"))
Half-unities(binary word-groups in which one of the components is literal, while the other is phraseologically bound (the so-termed phrasemes):black frost ("frost without ice or snow")
Phraseological collocations(-groups with the components whose combinative power (valency) is strictly limited: to make friends (but not * to do friends or * to make comrades).
Phraseological expressions(proverbs, sayings and aphoristic familiar quotations:
Birds of a feather flock together ()
The Koonin’s classification is the latest outstanding achievement in the Russian theory of phraseology. The classification is based on the combined structural - semantic principle and it also considers the quotient of stability of phraseological units.
I. Nominative phraseological units - are represented by word - groups, including the ones with one meaningful word, and coordinative phrases of the type wear and tear, well and good.
II. Nominative - communicative phraseological units - include word - groups, of the type to break the ice - the ice is broken, that is, verbal word - groups which are transformed into a sentence when the verb is used in the Passive Voice.
III. Phraseological units - which are neither nominative nor communicative include interjectional word - groups.
IV. Communicative phraseological units - are represented by proverbs and sayings.