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Re: Theta role?

From:Ray Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Monday, December 13, 2004, 18:07
On Sunday, December 12, 2004, at 11:46 , Carsten Becker wrote:

> Hello! > > Again reading some of the yet unread mails, I found the term > "theta role" mentioned several times. What is 'theta role'?
"theta role" and "theta theory' are terms used in Government-Binding theory of grammar. I quote Trask: [theta role] "In GB, the usual term for one of the semantic roles recognized in that framework and assigned by verbs and predicates to their arguments by the requirements of Theta Theory. The proponents of GB have been remarkably unforthcoming about precisely which theta roles are posited in the framework, but at least Agent, Patient and Goal are generally recognized, and some of the other semantic roles recognized in Case Grammar are at least occasionally invoked." (Case Grammar is a theory of grammar developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s which regards 'deep case' as the grammatical primitives in terms of which sentences are constructed. Its ideas greatly influenced later theories such as GB) [Theta Theory] "In GB, the module which deals with the valency requirements of verbs. It incorporates a set of participant roles called theta roles, whose proper distribution in sentence structure is mediated chiefly by the Projection Principle and the Theta Criterion." Theta Criterion is easily enough defined: "In GB, the requirement that the arguments of a verb in syntactic structure and the theta roles required by the verb's lexical entry must match upon a one-to-one basis." [Trask] For Projection Principle I quote again from Trask: "One of the fundamental principles of GB. It states that representations at each syntactic level are projected from the lexicon, in that the subcategorization and theta-marking properties of a lexical item must be maintained and satisfied at every level of representation...." the principle, according to Trask, has far-reaching consequences and possibly is the greatest factor responsible the major differences between GB and the various version of transformational grammar that preceded it. I have no doubt the proponents of GB on the list will happily expound further :) Ray =============================================== =============================================== Anything is possible in the fabulous Celtic twilight, which is not so much a twilight of the gods as of the reason." [JRRT, "English and Welsh" ]