Week 6

                                    Arguments and Thematic Roles

Remember predicate and predicator are different.

Task1

In which of the following sentences does the predicate male function as a predicator? Circle your choice.

            a. The male gorilla at the zoo had a nasty accident yesterday.

            b. The gorilla at the zoo is a male.

            c. The gorilla at the zoo is male.

Predication = saying something about something ( i.e. a subject); imparting new information.

PREDICATIONS consist of ARGUMENTS and PREDICATES

Semantics:

PREDICATE is any word (or sequence of words) which can function as the predicator of a sentence.

Syntax:

Subject            predicate                                

1.         London            is huge                         [London; huge]

1.         Julian             loves Julia                   [love; Julian, Julia]

2.         Julia                loves Julian                 [love; Julia, Julian]

3.         Julia                resembles Julian         [resemble; Julia, Julian]

                                                                        [resemble; Julian, Julia]

Arguments: One-, two- and three-place predicates

            1-place

(1) Grass is                  green.

[proper name]             [predicator]

[argument]

(2) The sun                  shines.

[‘proper name’]           [predicator]

[argument]

            2-place (dyadic relations)

(3) Monday is     before                      Tuesday

[proper name ] [predicator]               [proper name ]

[argument 1]                                       [argument 2]

(4) Monday                 precedes                      Tuesday

[proper name]             [predicator]               [proper name ]

[argument 1]                                                   [argument 2]

(5) Julian                     loves                            Julia

[proper name]            [predicator]                [proper name ]

[argument 1]                                                   [argument 2]

            3-place (triadic relations)

(6) York is           between      London and        Edinburgh

[proper name ] [predicator]   [proper name ]   [proper name]

[argument 1]                           [argument 2]      [argument 3]

(7) Julia                       gives                Julian                   a book

[proper name]         [predicator]     [proper name]      [common name]

[argument 1]                                       [argument 2]    [argument 3]

(6) & (7)

{semantically} argument1 – predicator + argument2 + argument3

{syntactically} (i) Subject + Predicate

                                    (ii) NP +          VP                   (Chomsky: TG)

                                    (iii) Theme + Rheme  (Halliday)

Task2:

1) Are the following sentences acceptable?

a. Thornbury sneezed

b. Thornbury sneezed a handful of pepper

c. Thornberry sneezed his wife a handful of pepper.

2) So is sneeze a one-place predicate

3) Are the following sentences acceptable in normal usage:

a. Martha helped

b. Martha helped John

c. Martha helped John the homework.

4) Is help a one-place predicate?

5) Is die a one-place predicate?

6) Is come a one-place predicate?

7) Is murder a one-place predicate?

Semantic Roles (Thematic roles)

1.         (a)        Julia            kissed      Julian.

[AGENT]                    [PATIENT]

(b)       Julian          was kissed by  Julia.

                        [PATIENT]                          [AGENT]

Agent: The initiator of an action, capable of acting with volition

Patient: The entity undergoing the effect of some action, often undergoing some change in state.

2.         (a) Julian gave Julia a diamond ring.

                                    [GOAL]                     

            (b) Julian gave a diamond ring to Julia.

                                                              [GOAL]

Goal: The entity towards which something moves literally or metaphorically.

3.         (a) Julian bought            Julia             a diamond ring.

                                         [BENEFICIARY]

            (b) Julian bought a diamond ring      for Julia.

                                                                   [BENEFICIARY]

            (c) Pat told the joke to his friends.

                                            [BENEFICIARY]

Beneficiary: The entity for whose benefit the action was performed.

4.         (a) Julian        opened the door              with a key.

    [AGENT]               [PATIENT]       [INSTRUMENT]

(b) The key                 opened         the door.

     [INSTRUMENT]                        [PATIENT]

            (c) The door    opened

      [PATIENT]

(d) The door      was opened with     a key

      [PATIENT]                                 [INSTRUMENT]

Instrument: The means by which an action is performed or something comes about.

5.         (a) The book  is in the library.

                  [THEME]

            (b) The apple ripened

                  [THEME]

Theme: The entity whose location or state is described.

6.         (a) Kevin                     felt ill

                 [EXPERIENCER]

            (b) Mary                      saw the smoke

                 [EXPERIENCER]

            (c) Laila                      heard the door shut.

                 [EXPERIENCER]

Experiencer: The entity which is aware of the action or state described by the predicate but which is not in control of the action or state.

7.         (a) The plane came back  from Kinshasa.

                                                     [SOURCE]

            (b) We got the idea  from a French magazine.

                                             [SOURCE]

Source: The entity from which something moves either literally or metaphorically.

8.         (a) The monster was hiding    under the bed.

                                                            [LOCATION]

            (b) The band was playing in   the city arena.

                                                            [LOCATION]

Location: The place where something is situated or takes place.

Task3:

Assign a thematic role label to each of the expressions in bold in the following sentences:

a. Helen drove to the party

b. He swatted the fly with a newspaper

c. The baboon was asleep on the roof of my car

d. Joan drank the yard of ginger ale

e. Campbell saw the gun first

f. George gave the doorman a tip

Workshop

TASK1

Are the expressions in bold referring expressions?

(a) We waited for twelve hours at Nairobi Airport.

(b) They had no food.

(c) Edward opened the cupboard and a pair of shoes fell out.

(d) Henry is going to make a cake.

(e) Doris passed through the office like a whirlwind.

(f) He was run over by a bus in Beverly Hills.

(g) What we need is an army of volunteers.

TASK 2: Equative Sentences

An EQUATIVE SENTENCE is one which is used to assert the identity of the referents of referring expressions.

Which of these sentences are equatives?

Try the “reversal test”

(a) Birds are vermin.

(b) My garden is a mess.

(c) You are the second person today to tell me that.

(d) Saladin was a Persian.

(e) Smith’s murderer is insane.

(f) Prince Charles is the heir to the throne.

(g) That is the man I saw go into the bank.

TASK 3: Generic Sentences

A GENERIC SENTENCE is a sentence in which some statement is made about a whole unrestricted class of individuals, as opposed to any particular individual.

Are the following generic sentences?

            (a) Gentleman prefer blondes

            (b) Jasper is twit

            (c) The male of the species guards the eggs

            (d) A wasp makes its nest in a hole in a tree

            (e) A wasp just stung me on the neck.

TASK 4

What’s wrong?

1.         A: Did you see Mary?

            B: Yes, I saw.

2.         A: What did the tired old lady do?

            B: She put her heavy bag.

3.         (a) Julian bought.

            (b) Julian bought Julia.

            (c) Julian bought some roses Julia.

            (d) Julian bought Julia some roses.

TASK 5

1-, 2- and 3-place predicates

Add three items to each column in this table.

1-place 2-place 3-place
X is beautiful X is similar to Y X lends Y to Z
X is bad X is better than Y X compares Y with Z
X falls X sees Y X puts Y on Z
     
     
     

TASK 6

  • How many arguments       (a) do these verbs need to take?

(b) may they take?

In other words, are they 1-place, 2-place or 3-place predicates?

(i) laugh          (ii) cut             (iii) elapse       (iv) send          (v) paint

  • For each verb, write one sentence with the maximum number of arguments that it can take.

TASK 7

Look at the thematic roles of the arguments (in bold) in the following statements.

e.g. England   beat     Luxembourg.

[AGENT]              [PATIENT]

Julia                      caught             a cold.

[EXPERIENCER]            [THEME]

Julian       put       the book         on the shelf.

[AGENT]              [PATIENT]     [LOCATION]

The train entered the tunnel at full speed.

[THEME]              [GOAL]

The windscreen shattered.

[PATIENT]

Now label up these sentences in the same way
  1. The crowd      booed              the players.
  2. Columbus                  discovered       America.
  3. Julia    noticed            a stranger       in the room.
  4. Julian lent                  me       ten pounds.
  5. Julian was given        a free ticket                for the concert.
  6. The house                   stands              by the lake.
  7. Julian shattered the windscreen with a brick.
  8. The brick shattered the windscreen.

TASK 8

Now write sentences containing the following thematic roles as grammatical (syntactic) subject

(i)        AGENT

(ii)       EXPERIENCER

  • THEME
  • PATIENT
  • INSTRUMENT
  • RECIPIENT

TASK 4

What’s wrong?

1.         A: Did you see Mary?

            B: Yes, I saw.              

[see is a 2-place predicate; must have a grammatical object; entails a PATIENT or THEME

2.         A: What did the tired old lady do?

            B: She put her heavy bag.

[put requires a LOCATIVE or INCREMENTAL THEME; e.g. She put her heavy bag down]

3.         (a) Julian bought.

            (b) Julian bought Julia.

            (c) Julian bought some roses Julia.

            (d) Julian bought Julia some roses.

[buy = a 2- or 3-place predidate; a (di-)transitive verb.

(b) describes an unusual situation in contemporary Western societies – i.e. slavery, unless it refers to white slavery & prostitution!

(c) is ungrammatical in English; (d) is the grammatical version: grammatically, the indirect object precedes the direct; semantically, BENEFICIARY before PATIENT]

TASK 5

1-, 2- and 3-place predicates

Add three items to each column in this table.

1-place 2-place 3-place
X is beautiful X is similar to Y X lends Y to Z
X is bad X is better than Y X compares Y with Z
X falls X sees Y X puts Y on Z
X arrives X admires Y X throws Y to Z
X is + (any ADJ.) X is above/below,etc. Y X borrows (a book) from Y
X + (any V intrans.): e.g. X explodes X is bigger than Y (X + comp. ADJ.) X fetches Y for Z

TASK 6

  • How many arguments (a) do these verbs need to take?

     (b) may they take?

In other words, are they 1-place, 2-place or 3-place predicates?

(i) laugh           (ii) cut              (iii) elapse        (iv) send           (v) paint

  • For each verb, write one sentence with the maximum number of arguments that it can take.

(i)             Jack laughed                             (1-place) Contrast: laugh at: 2-place; transitive

  • The knife cut the cake               (2-place). Intransitive use possible
  • Time elapsed                            (1-place). No other entailment.
  • Julian sent Julia a letter  (3-place). Possible as a 2-place predicate.
  • Julian painted Julia a portrait     (3-place). Ditto.


TASK 7

Now label up these sentences in the same way
  1. The crowd booed               the players.

      [AGENT]                           [PATIENT]

  • Columbus              discovered        America.

      [AGENT]                                       [GOAL]

  • Julia                      noticed             a stranger        in the room.

      [EXPERIENCER]                         [THEME?]      [LOCATION]

  • Julian        lent                  me                               ten pounds.

      [AGENT]                           [BENEFICIARY]        [THEME?]

  • Julian        was given         a free ticket                 for the concert.

      [PATIENT]                       [THEME]                    [GOAL?]

  • The house              stands               by the lake.

[THEME]                                            [LOCATION]

  • Julian shattered the windscreen with a brick.

[AGENT]                     [PATIENT]     [INSTRUMENT]

  • The brick               shattered           the windscreen.

[INSTRUMENT]                                 [PATIENT

TASK 8

Now write sentences containing the following thematic roles as grammatical (syntactic) subject

  • AGENT

e.g. Joyce beat Paula in this year’s Great North Run.

  • EXPERIENCER

e.g. Julia felt cold

  • THEME

e.g. The earth moved, catastrophically in Turkey.

  • PATIENT

e.g. England were beaten by New Zealand

  • INSTRUMENT

e.g. The mower cut the grass

  • RECIPIENT

e.g. Julia received her degree from the Vice-Chancellor himself