Excuse me for barging in here, but I thought this was an interesting look
into the semantic structure of languages.

On Mon, Feb 02, 2004 at 02:03:07AM -0500, Roger Mills wrote:
> I can open a conversation with:  "John loves Mary". After that, I can refer
> to Mary as she/her, John as he/him.  I could not start off with "John loves
> her" or "He loves her"and definitely not with *"John/he loves" nor *"loves
> Mary/her".  Therefore, the verb "love" requires two roles/actants/"cases",
> namely an actor/agent and a thing-acted-upon/patient/object.  Fillmore, in
> particular, called these "cases, and schematized it as: LOVE [A, O].  (This
> use of "case" is not to be confused with grammatical cases like Nominative,
> Accusative etc.  How A and O are marked in their surface realizations is up
> to each language.)
>  "Give" requires at minimum 3 actants, A/giver, O/thing given,
> D(ative)/recipient. Only if the context is clear can O or D be omitted--

IMHO, it's questionable whether the O here is the same as the O in the
previous verb (love). It can easily be argued that the actants of "give"
are A/giver, O/recipient, D/thing given, where D designates some third
actant (probably not the dative as understood in IE langs).

> "Sell" seems to require only an A and an O, the D is optional and in some
> cases may be unknown. The price is helpful information but is optional, and
> while it is part of the meaning of "sell" it isn't crucial to the
> grammaticalness of a sentence (and may also be unknown).

You could also say that D or O may be omitted from "give", too. You could
give something to John, without specifying what was given, or you could
give away a present, without specifying to whom you gave it. (E.g., "I
gave away my old cupboard.")

> It's in this sense, I think, that A O and D can be considered "core cases"
> in the semantic framework of verbs

If you assume that the O of a trivalent verb such as "give" is the same as
the O of a transitive verb such as "love".

You could also say A is optional, in cases such as "John was given the
book". Of course, in English this is realized as a passive construct, and
John has the A role; but it could be argued that the verb "give",
semantically speaking, need only take the O and D actants in this
particular instance.


Chance favours the prepared mind. -- Louis Pasteur