the verb open is associated with the semantic roles Agent, Theme, and Instrument (e.g. John [AGENT] opened the door [THEME] with his key [INSTRUMENT]), while the verbs ran and arrive are only associated with the Agent role (Bill ran) or Theme role (John arrived), respectively.
This term has always been more widespread in European linguistics than in American linguistics.
The following terms mean roughly the same as valency:
The term was adopted from chemistry by Lucien Tesnière.
- Tesnière, Lucien. 1959. Éléments de syntaxe structurale. Paris: Klincksieck.