Valency – item-specificity and idiom principle

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This article discusses the role of valency as a lexico-grammatical phenomenon which can only be fully accounted for in terms of such concepts as Sinclair’s idiom principle. It is argued that insights from corpus linguistics and foreign language linguistics can be accommodated in cognitive approaches such as Construction Grammar. The article outlines various levels of abstraction involved in a valency description and argues that although to a certain extent generalizations can be made, the idiosyncratic nature of valency should not be underestimated. Using largely data from the Valency Dictionary of English, it is shown that this is true of practically all levels of a valency description, ranging from correspondences of valency patterns and the meanings of the items to the lexical realization of particular complements.


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