Semantic role

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A semantic role is the role played by a participant in a situation.

Examples

In The boy cut the string with a knife, the boy has the semantic role agent, the string has the role patient, and a knife has the role instrument.

Comments

This term is not very widely used in the theoretical literature, but it is the most neutral term, being maximally transparent (not incorporating confusing components like "thematic", "case", etc.) (e.g. Quirk et al. 1985:740ff.)

Subtypes

Synonyms

Reference

  • Quirk, Randolph & Sidney Greenbaum & Geoffrey Leech & Jan Svartvik. 1985. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. Longman, Harcourt.

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