Transitivity Typology

Seppo Kittilä

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199281251
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Transitivity Typology

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  • Linguistics
  • Linguistic Typology
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology


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This article describes some of the most central facets of transitivity in general. It briefly reports some of the definitions linguistic transitivity has been given. These comprise semantic (including functional-typological definitions), formal, and pragmatic (transitivity in discourse) approaches to transitivity. The number and marking of overt arguments, along with features of verb morphology, constitute the central formal features of transitivity. Additionally, some of the central semantic features affecting the formal transitivity of clauses are explored. The examined transitivity alternations are divided into intransitivizing and transitivizing alternations. Languages tend to encode the basic transitive event. They also differ considerably according to how the formal deviations from the transitive prototype are motivated and signalled.

Keywords: linguistic transitivity; verb morphology; semantic features; clauses; intransitivizing alternations; transitivizing alternations; languages

Article.  7293 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Linguistic Typology ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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