Chapter

The Content of Semantic Roles: Predicate–Argument Structure in Language and Cognition

Martin Haiden

in The Theta System

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199602513
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739200 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602513.003.0003

Series: Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics

The Content of Semantic Roles: Predicate–Argument Structure in Language and Cognition

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The paper try to rehabilitate thematic roles as “the block stones that we know already that sentences are composed of”, and explore “what other work they do in relating derivations to the cognitive systems.” (Reinhart, 2000:38) After an argument against the lexical structures assumed in mainstream lexical semantics, I propose a cognitive foundation of Tanya Reinhart's role features. I argue that those features encode the explanatory constructs of a modular theory of event perception. An important aspect of this discussion, ignored in lexical semantics, is the role of intentionality in the causal interpretation of change of state events. The final section applies the cues established in research on perception, in order to establish falsifiable guidelines for the identification of individual roles of lexical items.

Keywords: lexical conceptual structure; change of state; causation; intentionality; theta role

Chapter.  11385 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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