CAS LX 502 5b. Theta roles Chapter 6
Roles in an event • Pat pushed the cart into the corner with a stick. • This sentence describes an event, tying together several participants: • The event is a pushing event • Patis the instigator of the event • The cartis affected (moved) during the event • The cornermarks the endpoint of the path • A stickis the instrument used to effect the movement
Thematic roles • Agent: initiator, capable of acting with volition • Patient: entity undergoing change • Theme: entity moved or located • Experiencer: Aware of event, but not in control • Beneficiary: Entity for whose benefit the event occurs • Instrument: Means by which event comes about • Location: Place in which event occurs • Goal: Entity/place toward which something moves • Source: Entity/place from which something moves
q-grids • Among the pieces of information stored in our mental lexicon about predicates is the q-grid of a predicate. • The predicate names a kind of event, and specifies what entities play a role in the event. • put V: <Agent, Theme, Location> • Pat put the book on the table.
q-grids • put V: <Agent, Theme, Location> • Pat put the book on the table. • Conventionally, only required q-roles are listed in the q-roles. That is, q-roles that are necessary in specifying the event. • *Pat put on the table. • *Pat put the book. • Pat put the book on the table with a spatula.
Arguments and adjuncts • An argumentis required by the q-grid. • An adjunctis superfluous, less connected to the event, freer in ordering. Can be added to further specify any kind of compatible event. • *Pat put the fork. • Pat put the fork on the table. • Pat put the fork on the table with gusto at 6pm. • Pat put the fork on the table at 6pm with gusto. • With gusto, Pat put the fork on the table at 6pm. • *Pat put the form at 6pm with gusto on the table. • *On the table, Pat put the fork at 6pm with gusto.
Classes of verbs • We can classify verbs by the number of q-roles in their q-grids. • Intransitive: trip<Theme> • Transitive: kick<Agent, Patient> • Ditransitive: put<Agent, Theme, Location> • Atransitive: rain< > • Sort of. • The baby kicked, Pat tripped Tracy, Chris read (the book). It’s more complicated than it seems.
Classes of verbs • Even apart from valency (number of arguments in the q-grid), we can identify lots of classes of verbs that behave alike in terms of q-roles. • give, lend, supply, pay, donate, contributeV: <Agent, Theme, Recipient> • receive, accept, borrow, buy, purchase, rent, hireV:<Recipient, Theme, Source> • break, open, sink, collapseV: <Patient>V: <Agent, Patient> • eat, drink, read, paintV: <Agent>V: <Agent, Patient>
What are the q-roles? • How do we know that the list of q-roles we have is right? • We don’t. • We can group q-roles in various ways, or subdivide them. The question is what provides the greatest insight to linguistic structure. • The rock frightens Pat. • Pat frightens the rock. • The car ran over the nail in the road. • Theme = Patient? Recipient = Goal = Beneficiary? Does it matter? • Actor vs. Agent? • Malicious Agent vs. Benevolent Agent?
Can an argument get more than one q-role? • Pat threw the ball to Tracy. • Yes. • (e.g., Jackendoff) Pat: Agent, Source; the ball: Patient, Theme; Tracy: Goal. • No. • (e.g., Chomsky) q-roles can contain more than one q-relation, but it is linguistically one role (bundle of q-relations). Pat[Agent, Source].
Subjects and objects • We can identify parts of sentences as subjects, predicates, objects. • Often these are defined by position and by case. • I met her. She met me. • Grammatical roles and q-roles are dissociable. • Pat closed the door. • The door closed.
Linking • Almost any q-role can be a structural subject. • Chris planned the heist. • Tracy saw the crime occur. • The window broke. • The hammer smashed the glass. • Chris tripped. • Chris got a summons.
Linking • There are tendencies at least. • If there’s an Agent, it is the subject. • The exam failed Pat. • Otherwise, if there’s an instrument, it is the subject. • The hammer broke the vase. • Otherwise, if there’s a Theme or Patient, it is the subject. • The vase broke. • *The vase broke with the hammer.
Linking hierarchies • Determining which q-role is the subject?Agent/Experiencer > Instrument > Theme/Patient • Pat broke the vase on Tuesday with a hammer. • The hammer broke the vase on Tuesday. • The vase broke on Tuesday (*with a hammer) • The dog ate my homework. • My homework was eaten (by the dog). • Tracy was given my homework. • *A fork was eaten my homework.
Why q-roles? • We are trying to describe generalizations about language, meaning, the mapping to structure. • We can imagine a lot of different kinds of roles. E.g., Patient could undergo a lot of different degrees of affectedness • Touch (no change) • Squeeze (temporary change) • Break (fundamental change)
Dowty on q-roles • Fine-grain: q-roles are really collections of entailments. E.g., “does a volitional act”, “with intent”, “moves or changes externally.” Many verbs share this entailment with their most prominent argument (“Agent”). • Course-grain: There are only these collections of q-roles, of two kinds (Proto-Agent, Proto-Patient). Which collection plays the more prominent role depends on the constitution of the collection (relatively).
Proto-Agent, Proto-Patient • Proto-Agent • Volitional involvement • Sentience/perception • Causing event or change of state in another participant • Movement relative to another participant • Proto-Patient • Undergoes change of state • Incremental theme • Causally affected by another participant • Stationary relative to another participant • Agent is a prototypical Proto-Agent. Experiencer, less so, Instrument less so. Patient is a prototypical Proto-Patient, Beneficiary less so.
Why q-roles? • We get some generalization power by considering q-roles, allowing us to define classes of verbs that share similar behavior. • As an example, psychological verbs (admire, enjoy, amuse, frighten), which have an Experiencer and a Stimulus (or Percept). • Two types, differing in the linking of arguments to syntactic positions. • Point here: we need to refer to q-roles to differentiate the two types.
Psych verbs • Type 1 (Subject-experiencer) • admire, enjoy, fear, like, love, relish, savor • V: <Experiencer, Stimulus> • Type 2 (Object-experiencer) • amuse, entertain, frighten, interest, please, surprise, thrill • V: <Stimulus, Experiencer>
q-roles and language description • Saeed gives the example of Lakhota, which morphological marks Patient and Agent (hence we need the concepts to adequately describe the language). • Agent subjects or objects wa- • Patient subjects or objects ma-
Active vs. Passive (Voice) • Pat ate the sandwich • The sandwich was eaten (by Pat) • Passive removes/demotes the Agent/Experiencer, promoting the next q-role to subject. • eatV: <Agent, Patient> (active)eatenV: <Patient> (passive) • The book was given to Pat.(theme) • Pat was given a book. (recipient) • The shot was heard ’round the world.(percept) • The kids were frightened.(experiencer) • The ghost was feared.(stimulus)
Passive • Generally, only the highest argument can be promoted to subject position in the passive. • He sprayed paint on the wall. He sprayed the wall with paint. • Paint was sprayed on the wall. The wall was sprayed with paint. • *The wall was sprayed paint on. *Paint was sprayed the wall with. • He loaded hay onto the truck. He loaded the truck with hay. • Hay was loaded onto the truck. The truck was loaded with hay. • *The truck was loaded hay onto. *Hay was loaded the truck with. • He gave a book to Mary. He gave Mary a book. • A book was given to Mary. Mary was given a book. • *Mary was given a book to. *A book was given Mary.
Passive usage • Passives are often useful to “background” the subject (either to total omission or at least to a less prominent role). • Pat took a trip to Providence yesterday. • The police arrested him. • He was arrested by the police. • He sprayed the car with paint. • #The car was sprayed with paint.
Middles • Middles are sort of like passives: the Agent/Experiencer is suppressed and the next q-role is promoted to subject. The verb does not take on a passive form (in English), and the construction is generally only available to describe a degree of “success”: • Pat broke the calculator. • The calculator was broken. • This calculator breaks easily.