Semantic Role Elaboration

  • Mário A. Perini


Thematic relations are of two main kinds: semantic roles and elaborate thematic relations (ETRs). Semantic roles (such as Agent, Patient, and Instrument) are linguistic relations, and may be present in the statement of grammatical rules. ETRs (such as “eaten thing,” “scratcher,” “with his foot”) are cognitive relations and are present in cognitive representations but have no role in the grammatical structure. These two kinds of thematic relations are connected by elaboration, which is composed of hyponymic tracks—thus, in a sentence containing the verb scratch the “scratcher” is a hyponym of the Agent and is correspondingly coded as the subject of the sentence, which is the prototypical coding for the Agent. We say then that “scratcher” is one of the elaborations of the Agent. The same occurs with the “eater” (if the verb is eat), and so on. Semantic roles are important because some grammatical rules must be stated in terms of them; and ETRs are important because only they are directly accessible to the language user’s introspection.


Elaborate relations Elaboration Hyponymic tracks Semantic role 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mário A. Perini
    • 1
  1. 1.Universidade Federal de Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

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