On the Semantic Content of the Notion of ‘Thematic Role’

  • David R. Dowty
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 39)


The notion of “thematic roles”, a more modem term for Fillmore’s (1968) case relations, Jackendoff’s (1972, 1976) and Gruber’s (1965) thematic relations, and Panini’s karakas, has been appealed to by contemporary linguists in the statement of natural language generalizations about syntax, morphology, and semantics for some 20 years now. Until recently, thematic roles were invoked only in research that treated semantics non-formally (i.e. not model-theoretically). The level of semantic rigor behind these notions in this literature is suggested by the characterizations in (1) of some of the roles from Andrews (1985) and Jackendoff (1985), which are very typical of the way roles are introduced in this literature.


Semantic Content Linguistic Theory Direct Object Thematic Role Grammatical Gender 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • David R. Dowty
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsOhio State UniversityUSA

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