Thematic Roles . Sara sang the song. Agent Kim drank a coffee. Patient Sally gave Tom her pullover . Theme. Thematic Roles. Susi gave her the bag . She likes candles. Experiencer They protected their heads with helmets. Instrument Megan prepared lunch for her grandmother.
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Sara sang the song.
Kim drank a coffee.
Sally gave Tom her pullover.
Susi gave her the bag.
She likes candles.
They protected their heads with helmets.
Megan prepared lunch for her grandmother.
He donated $2000 to the orphanage.
The computer is on the table.
They went to the cinema.
She handed the paper to her professor.
She received a letter from her boyfriend.
Definition: The term linking refers to the relationship between thematic roles and grammatical relations.
Agent Recipient Theme
John gave Tom the bottle.
Subject indirect object direct object
In an unmarked declarative sentence, the highest ranked thematic role will be subject.
Agent > instrument / experiencer > patient / theme > source / goal / location
unergative verbs: take an agent subject
-unaccusative verbs: take a patient subject
A sentence can only be passivised if there is a difference between subject and object on the theta-hierachy.
Peter schreibt Kurzgeschichten.
Kurzgeschichten werden von Peter geschrieben.
1) Demotion of the subject to an adjunct introduced by by / von
2) Promotion of the object (and adverbial NP) to subject status
3) Introduction of an auxiliary verb:
English be or get / German (mostly) werden. (German also knows more marginal auxiliaries: bekommen, sein, bleiben, gehören.)
e.g. The car ran over a dog. > A dog was/got run over by the car.
Man verlieh dem Soldaten einen Orden.
> Dem Soldaten wurde ein Orden verliehen.
(alternatively: > Der Soldat bekam einen Orden verliehen.)
That means, the subject must have been affected by the relevant event,
or in other terms
subject and object must have different levels on the theta-hierarchy (Agensgefälle).
Vorgangspassiv Er wurde (vom Blitz) getroffen.
Zustandspassiv Er war (wie vom Blitz) getroffen.
e.g. Don’t get bitten by snakes!
(German: *Werde nicht von Schlangen gebissen!
> Lass dich nicht von Schlangen beißen!)
e.g. In den Fluren wird nicht gerannt! (subjectless)
(English: Running is not allowed in the corridors.)
e.g. Ihm wurde gedankt.
(No oblique case in English:
*Him was thanked. > He was thanked.)
e.g. Ihm wird vertraut.
Ihr wird gratuliert.
Ihnen wird geglaubt.