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:
> 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:
"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)
"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
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" ]