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Semantic roles and semantic features
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Semantic roles and semantic features


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  • 1. NAMES: Dayra Yanangómez Andrea Labanda LOJA - ECUADOR
  • 2. DEFINITION A semantic role is the underlying relationship that a participant has with the main verb in a clause. Words are not just a “containers” of meanings. They fulfill different “roles” within the situation described by a sentence. For example: If the situation is a simple event such as The boy kicked the ball  The verb „kicked‟ describes an action.  The noun phrases ‘The boy’ and ‘the ball’ describe the roles of entities such as people and things involved in the action.
  • 3. ROLES Agent Patient or Theme Instrument Experiencer Location
  • 4. The entity that performs the action is technically known as “agent”. For example: The boy kicked the ball. o As in the sentence one role is taken by the boy and the boy performs the action, so it is agent.  Although agents are typically human, they can also be non-human forces, machines or creatures. For example: The wind blew the ball away. The car ran over the ball.
  • 5. THEME  The entity that is involved in or affected by the action is technically known as “theme”. For example: The boy kicked the ball. o In this sentence “ball” is the theme because it is affected by the action performed by the ‘agent’.  The theme can also be an entity that is simply being described. For example: The ball was red.  The theme can also be human. Indeed the physical entity can appear in two semantic roles. For example: The boy kicked himself.
  • 6. INSTRUMENT  If an agent uses another entity in performing an action, that other entity fills the role of instrument. For example: o She writes a letter. o He have the lunch.  In “writing with a pen” or “eating with a spoon” the phrases “a pen” and “a spoon” have the semantic role of instrument.
  • 7. EXPERIENCER  When a noun phrase designates an entity as a person who has a feeling, a perception or a state, it fills the role of experiencer.  If we see, know or enjoy something, we do not perform any action. In this way we are in the role of experiencer. For example: Did you hear that noise? The experiencer is “you” and theme is “that noise”.
  • 8. LOCATION  When an entity is in the description of the event then it fills the role of Location. (on the table, in the room etc). For example: Mary saw a mosquito on the wall. In this sentence “on the wall” is location.
  • 9. It is a notational method which can be used to express the existence or non-existence of preestablished semantic properties by using plus and minus signs. Man is [+HUMAN], [+MALE], [+ADULT] Woman is [+HUMAN], [MALE], [+ADULT] Boy is [+HUMAN], [+MALE], [ADULT] Girl is [+HUMAN], [-MALE], [ADULT]
  • 10. It can be used to describe differences between antonyms, super-ordinates and their hyponyms, and near synonyms.