The problem with Transitivity

Transitive Action Space is fairly concise space containing all those actions that are divalent. These actions are the first class of actions that we consider because it occurs most frequent in interpersonal relationships. Also because the Golden Rule and Silver Rule of ethics both syntactically refer to precisely this class of actions.

Linguists have long thought of this issue and discuss the concept of valency of verbs. monovalent verbs are intransitive, transitive verbs are divalent… Other verbs are more expressive and some has multiple valencies: do and have both can be monovalent, divalent and trivalent.

The example given in wikipedia is the following American southerner statement:

I am having myself some dinner.

“I”, “myself” and “dinner” are the parameters of “have”, which in this case is trivalent.

The interesting fact about this is that the first two np’s associated with this verb are covariant (vaguely speaking). And by this I mean

He is having himself some dinner.

She is having herself some dinner.

They are having themselves some dinner.

and so on and so forth. The first two vary together. I can never have, for example

I am having themselves some dinner…

it just wouldn’t make any sense.

We should let this sink in a second. First of all there are multivalent verbs beyond transitive verbs. Second of all, some verbs may have restriction on them regarding some or all of their np’s when used in an actual sentence.

do is the other multivalent verb.

I am doing myself a favor.

Again trivalent, however in this case covariant np’s are not required.

I am doing him a favor.

I am doing her a favor.

I am doing them a favor.


In fact, not to be vulgar but these are the things that came to mind as I think about this:

I am shitting myself a bucket of golden coins.

I am making myself a bucket of golden coins.

I am shaking myself a headache.

I am driving him nuts.

I am driving him home.

ahha, so we have a pattern. These are still transitive verbs, but their third np parameterizes the content of the action or indicate a byproduct of the action.

I can shit you a bucket of gold.

To me, you the object of the action, the receiver and gold is the content of the action. I am straining but not seeing my doing anything to gold using you. similar pattern apply to the other of the previous sentences.

I’d like to include these trivalent verbs in the transitive action space by adding the additional noun phrase into the verb forming verb-np super-verbs that can be applied to the parameters of previously defined Transitive Action Space (i.e. you and me).

(shitting gold)

(making gold coin)

(shaking (out) a headache)

(driving nuts)

(driving home)

are included as trivalent transitive actions.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s