Genitive arguments and semantic roles

Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Sat Oct 27 18:39:02 EDT 2001


At 2:21 PM -0700 10/27/01, c stirling bartholomew wrote:
>on 10/26/01 3:06 PM, Iver Larsen wrote:
>
>> In semantics, it is more common to talk about verbs that have one, two or
>> three basic valencies. These valencies are like arms that go out from the
>> verb nucleus and are able to grab one to three nominals in various roles.
>> The primary or basic semantic roles are: 1) agent (with subclasses:
>> experiencer and cause), 2) patient or undergoer, 3) beneficiary or location.
>> There are many secondary semantic roles like: Instrument, goal, path etc.,
>> but these are normally attached to the verb nucleus by secondary binding
>> forces that in Greek and English as a norm are expressed by prepositions.
>> The genitive is a morphological case, but not a semantic case. It functions
>> to bind two nominals together.
>> The syntactical passive corresponds to making the agent role implicit. This
>> means that either the patient or beneficiary becomes the grammatical
>> subject.
>
>Iver and Carl,
>
>Here is question from Homer's Iliad, Carl:
>
>B 346 TOUSDE D' EA FQINUQEIN hENA KAI DUO, TOI KEN ACAIWN
>B 347 NOSFIN BOULEUWS'; ANUSIS D OUK ESSETAI AUTWN
>B 348 PRIN ARGOSD' IENAI PRIN KAI DIOS AIGIOCOIO
>B 349 GNWMENAI EI TE YEUDOS UPOSCESIS EI TE KAI OUKI

I had to check and punctuate this before I could make it out clearly.

>Take a look at DIOS AIGIOCOIO. Looks to me like the genitive constituent
>DIOS AIGIOCOIO is functioning in semantic role of patient relative to
>GNWMENAI. A.R. Benner (Selections from Homer's Iliad, 1908 page 389 #174)
>states: "The genitive . . . sometimes indicates a person (or thing) about
>whom (or which) something is heard, learned or known."

I wouldn't quarrel with this analysis. I'm not sure what Iver would say
about this, but Homeric Greek is about 800 years distant from NT KOINH; I
think I'd call DIOS AIGIOCOIO a partitive genitive functioning as a direct
object of the aorist infinitive GNWMENAI. I suspect that in Koine we would
more likely have something like PRIN AN GNWMEN PERI TOU DIOS AIGIOCOU EI
ALHQH hUPISCNEITAI. That is to say, the (partitive) genitive case in
Homeric Greek bore semantic roles that are subsumed by prepositions used
with case endings in later Greek.

>My questions are: How many arguments (valences) are attached to the
>infinitive GNWMENAI here? Is DIOS AIGIOCOIO an object of knowledge here and
>if so is does it perform in a semantic role? If so what role?
>
>Perhaps (Iver?) one thing we need here is a definition of semantic roles and
>how they differ from semantic fucntions.

I don't claim to know the lingo used by the lingoists, so I am utterly
helpless to answer such a question.
-- 

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/



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