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What is instrument as a semantic role?

 

Definition
 

Instrument is the semantic role of an inanimate thing that an agent uses to implement an event. It is the stimulus or immediate physical cause of an event.

Discussion
 

Instrument words are usually nouns occurring in the noun phrase of a clause:

 
  • Someone cut the bread with a knife.
  •  

    In some languages, the noun occurs in a second clause or serial verb construction:

     
  • Someone took a knife (and) cut the bread.
  • Examples (English)
     
    • The cook cut the cake with a knife.
    • She used a crayon to scribble a note.
    • That window was broken by a hammer.
    Generic
      Instrument is a kind of
     
    Sources
     

    Larson 1984 199–203

     

    Longacre 1983 159–161


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