Print

Print


Philippe Caquant said:
>
> What
> has it to do together ? The answer is clear: the
> syntax is the same. Huh, I thought we were talking
> about semantics ?

Welcome to modern analytical linguistics.


> Besides, reformulations like "What Bill did to the
> paint was smear it on the wall" makes little sense to
> me. I could have said "Bill smeared the wall with
> paint". Where is the Patient ? Is there any Patient at
> all ? Are they two of them ? The author refers to "the
> syntactic frames of verbs like 'load' and 'smear'".
> This is, once more, about syntax, and of course, about
> some special syntax, the English one.

Correct.

Semantically, we really should be talking about the "smearer", the "smeary
stuff" and the "smearee", instead of "agent", "instrument" and "patient"
(or whatever). Attempts to force all the verbs of a language to
participate in a single, monolithic system of semantic case relations are
rather farcical. Attempts to do so for all the verbs of _all_ languages
are simply ludicrous.

A verb like "to smear" invokes a _prototype_ that contains all the
semantic bits and pieces (smearer, smearee, etc. The meaning of the verb
in a specific utterance may or may not be very close to its prototypical
meaning, depending on linguistic and extralinguistic context.

You might try to find some stuff on cognitive linguistics by Ron Langacker
to read -- it might be closer to what you're looking for than anything
that Jackendoff has written.


> Maybe I got it all wrong and it will become clearer in
> the following chapters, but until now, I feel a little
> disappointed.

Real semantics has been in the dog house since the 60's, I'm afraid. I'm
going to try to put up a web page or two on linguistic semantics this
year. Stay tuned.


-- Mark