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What is patient as a semantic role?

 

Definition
 

Patient is a semantic role that is usually the surface object of the verb in a sentence.

 
Also known as:

affected, undergoer

Discussion
 

Some linguists define the patient and affected semantic roles in slightly different ways.

 

Longacre 1983 155–156 (following Chafe) defines a patient as the entity

 
  • predicated with a state or location
  • undergoing a change of state or location, or
  • which is possessed, acquired or exchanged.
 

Larson 1984 199–203 defines the affected role as the

 
  • thing that is affected by an event
  • person or thing that undergoes a process, or
  • person who experiences an event.
Examples (Longacre 1983)
 
  • The entity predicated with a state or location:

    • The door is open.
    • John is at home.
  • The entity undergoing a change of state or location:

    • He opened the door.

    • The door swung open.
    • He threw the ball across the yard.

    • The ball rolled off the table.
  • The entity which is possessed, acquired, or exchanged:

    • John has a new book.

    • John bought a new book.

    • John gave Mary a new book.

Examples (Larson 1984): Affected semantic role
 
  • The thing that is affected by an event:

    • The dog ate the meat.

    • The tree fell on the house.

  • The person or thing that undergoes a process:

    • The water evaporated.
    • Mary became sad.
  • The person who experiences an event:

    • John smelled the smoke.
    • Mary saw the snake.
Generic
  Patient is a kind of
 
Sources
 

Larson 1984 199–203

 

Longacre 1983 155


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Go to SIL home page This page is an extract from the LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0 published on CD-ROM by SIL International, 2003. [Ordering information.]

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