johanna.barddal at NOR.UIB.NO
Thu Mar 23 11:21:42 UTC 2006
This last discussion shows that notions of themtic/semantic roles are highly
problematic, and as I argued both in my dissertation on case in Icelandic (which
Ashild cited) and in a 2004 paper on the semantics of the "oblique" subject
construction in Icelandic, German and Faroese, they should be dispensed with
from linguistic theory.
Barðdal, Jóhanna. 2001. Case in Icelandic A Synchronic, Diachronic and
Comparative Approach. Lundastudier i Nordisk språkvetenskap A 57. Lund:
Department of Scandinavian Languages.
Barðdal, Jóhanna. 2004. The Semantics of the Impersonal Construction in
Icelandic, German and Faroese: Beyond Thematic Roles. In Focus on Germanic
Typology [Studia Typologica 6], 10537. Ed. Werner Abraham. Berlin: Akademie
> ashild.nass at ILN.UIO.NO den torsdag 23. marts 2006 kl. 09:00 +0100 skrev:
> >Dear typologists,
> >Richard Madsen's comment asking whether the dative-marked object in my
> >Icelandic examples shouldn't rather be considered a beneficiary got me
> >thinking. Volitional patients are in fact semantically very close to
> >other types of participants such as recipients or beneficiaries. The
> >latter are also volitional or at least sentient - you have to be
> >sentient in order to be plausibly said to benefit from something - and
> >they receive an effect of the action. Also, the idea of volitionally
> >submitting to having something done to you strongly suggests a
> >beneficial effect (or, alternatively, masochism, a property which I
> >don't think anyone has ever suggested we should expect to find encoded
> >in language). So maybe one could say that the default interpretation of
> >a volitional patient is as a beneficiary. Conversely, isn't a
> >beneficiary to a certain extent a kind of volitional patient?
> I'd say beneficiary can be volitional patient, but doesn't have to be. In
> "Peter scrathed Tom's back (because it was itching)" Tom is both patient
> and beneficiary. But in "Peter repaired Tom's glasses" Tom is only
> beneficiary, the patient is his glasses.
> > Can you be
> >said to benefit from something which you don't really want? It may be
> >possible, but certainly not the prototypical interpretation of a
> I think a more precise criterion for being beneficiary would be that one
> accepts the action done and its outcome. What I have in mind is that the
> putative beneficiary doesn't have to want the action explicitly and in
> advance (i.e. before the action for him or her is started), he or she may
> not even be aware of being in need for something. But he or she has to
> accept the action and its outcome as something that is beneficial for him
> or her.
> >What I'm saying is, maybe the reason why a distinct formal encoding of
> >volitional patients appears to be rare, or at least rarely described as
> >such, is either or both of these: 1) they're semantically so close to
> >other, more generally familiar types such as beneficiaries that
> >linguists have described them in the latter terms; 2) because of the
> >same semantic similarity, *languages* treat these types in the same way.
> >Thanks to Richard, and to everyone else who replied.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Coordinator of the Ph.D. Research School in Linguistics and Philology
Department of Linguistics and Comparative Literature, Linguistics Division
University of Bergen
johanna.barddal at uib.no
Phone +47-55582438 (work)
Phone +47-55201117 (home)
Fax +47-55589354 (work)
More information about the Lingtyp