[Lingtyp] semantic role of participant that needs something
christian.lehmann at uni-erfurt.de
Sat Jul 2 08:05:16 UTC 2022
many thanks for your help. At least some of the discussion seems to
converge on the following points:
Fillmore-style semantic roles (i.e. semantic relations between a
referent and a situation core, conceived at a level of generality that
can cover different situation cores [coded by different verbs]) are best
analyzed in terms of primitive predicates. (I could have known this; s.:
Lehmann, Christian 2006, “Les rôles sémantiques comme prédicats”.
/Bulletin de la Société de Linguistique de Paris/
Then the meaning of 'X /lacks/ Y' may boil down to 'X does not have Y'.
The meaning of 'X /needs/ Y' would include this proposition and another
one like 'for X not to have Y affects X negatively' or alternatively
'for X to have Y would be positive for X' (with obvious choices for more
formalization). This would encompass Volker's notion of 'modalized
Now assuming that /lack/ has the meaning indicated, then 'for X not to
have Y affects X negatively' may be a conversational implicature. On
this basis, a language (maybe Yankunytjatjara) may have 'lack' and lack
'need'. On the other hand, there are languages like German and Cabecar
which have 'need', but lack 'lack'.
Returning to semantic roles: Given 'X does not have Y', X clearly has
the possessor role. However, 'X does not have Y' is not the "point" in
the meaning of 'need'; the point is that it would be better for X to
have Y. Then the question remains whether there is any semantic role
(already known) which covers this relation of X. Randy argues that the
case is analogous to 'love', so the role is experiencer. It is also true
that the role of X in 'X needs Y' is often coded as some sort of dative
dependent, which would fit the experiencer interpretation. However, it
also fits the possessor interpretation, so this may not be decisive. On
the basis of Jürgen's paraphrase, X would be affected. This would be
covered by the role of patient. However, no data have been adduced where
X in 'X needs Y' would be in some kind of undergoer role.
Maybe the affectation of X here is not the immediate affectation of a
patient, but rather the mediate affectation undergone by the participant
bearing a benefactive role. Then the role of X in 'Z is (not) good for
X' would be the malefactive role; if it is converted into 'it would be
good for X if Z were the case', it is the benefactive role. This would
again be compatible with the dative often associated with 'need'.
It remains to say that the experiencer and the benefactive roles are not
entirely disjunct, as far as definitions known to me go.
Prof. em. Dr. Christian Lehmann
E-Post: christianw_lehmann at arcor.de
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