grammatical cases & semantic roles (was: ergative/accusative)
|From:||R A Brown <ray@...>|
|Date:||Monday, January 29, 2007, 19:55|
> In a message dated 1/28/2007 10:17:14 AM Central Standard Time,
> ray@CAROLANDRAY.PLUS.COM writes:
>>I agree that Rye is using labels incorrectly. He is IMO confusing
>>semantic roles and grammatical relations. But, similarly, the label
>>'focus' is surely being used incorrectly by MorphemeAddict.
> As I said, I was basing my information on Rick Morneau's work.
Sorry - you did indeed say that.
> His treatment of argument structures is not mainstream.
It certainly isn't, is it! Your mail send me to look out the stuff I
have about Rick's 'Machine Translation Interlingua'.
Yes, he does appear to use 'focus' as the label for a 'case'. I think,
however, his use of 'patient' and 'agent' are clear indicators that he
is not talking about surface grammatical cases but about 'deep cases'
i.e. semantic roles. This makes sense, I think, in discussing an
interlingua for (universal) machine translation: we need to get at what
a sentence/utterance etc _means_.
Even so, I find his use of 'focus' unhelpful in that it already has
another linguistic use.
Personally, i think it can (and does) cause confusion to use 'case' to
denote both surface, grammatical features and semantic roles. Although
there is some correspondence between the two, it is very far from being
As I said, I agree with you that Rye is using labels wrongly in
His error IMO is his apparent 1 to 1 mapping of grammatical case to
semantic role, e.g. that the subject of a transitive verb is always the
patient - it ain't.
BTW - Rick Morneau says "All verbs have a patient, whether stated or
implied." Is that in fact true?
What is the patient of the following
LATIN SPANISH ESPERANTO ENGLISH
pluit llueve pluvas it's raining
niuit nieva neghas it's snowing
Of the languages above, only English gives the verb a grammatical
subject - the dummy 'it'. What is the patient implied in those and
Nid rhy hen neb i ddysgu.
There's none too old to learn.