1. argument slot, Verbal head

Semantic roles

There are a considerable number of handbook and encyclopedia articles devoted to semantic roles, and they also receive treatments in many introductory semantics textbooks, especially those aimed at undergraduates. Such textbook treatments typically present a particular inventory of semantic roles and show their applicability to the semantic representation of particular sentences; further, they usually include some discussion of the problems that face semantic roles as a semantic representation. In contrast, the handbook and encyclopedia treatments provide more sustained discussion of the notion of semantic role. They often trace the development of the notion, as well as its place within current linguistic theory. In addition, they may introduce several approaches to semantic role inventories, highlighting the similarities and differences among them, and they may discuss the limitations both of particular approaches and of semantic role approaches in general. Due to this added depth, representative handbook chapters and encyclopedia articles are the focus of this section. Bruce and Moser 1992 provides the most basic treatment of semantic roles, while Van Valin 1994 provides a more extensive introduction encompassing both traditional and generalized semantic roles. Wechsler 2006 complements these by also providing an overview of the development of semantic role approaches. Davis 2011 is the most extensive of the handbook chapters, introducing semantic roles from a formal semantic perspective. Butt 2006 introduces semantic roles in the context of a discussion of morphological case, thus drawing attention to the relation between the two notions. Levin and Rappaport Hovav 2005, a survey of argument realization, provides a detailed introduction to both traditional and generalized semantic roles, as well as a thorough discussion of thematic hierarchies. More specialized encyclopedia articles and handbook chapters are mentioned elsewhere in this article, including Fillmore’s own retrospective view on case grammar, Fillmore 2003 (cited under Case Grammar: Development). Campe 1994 includes an extensive list of references, written in several languages, on various topics that fall under the notion of “semantic role.”

Bruce, Bertram, and Margaret G. Moser. 1992. Grammar, case. In Encyclopedia of artificial intelligence. 2d ed. Edited by Stuart C. Shapiro, 563–570. New York: Wiley.

This brief introduction, written for researchers in artificial intelligence, provides a good starting point for anyone with little previous background. It explains the motivation for semantic roles and reviews several approaches current in the late 1960s and early 1970s, including case grammar.

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