Theta Roles
(4,005 words)

Theta roles (hereafter θ-roles) are the semantic roles borne by noun phrases in a sentence that designate ‘agent of action’, ‘patient of action’, and so forth. As such, they constitute an essential part of a sentence's semantic interpretation. The concept, though not the name, is used in the beginnings of Arabic grammatical study. Saad (1982:87) observes that the medieval grammarians classified sentence elements semantically, for example as fiʿl ‘action’, fāʿil ‘actor’, and mafʿūl ‘acted upon’. Comparable designations pervade Wright's (1974) grammar of Classical Ara…

Cite this page
Mark S. LeTourneau, “Theta Roles”, in: Encyclopedia of Arabic Language and Linguistics, Managing Editors Online Edition: Lutz Edzard, Rudolf de Jong. Consulted online on 22 July 2018 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1570-6699_eall_EALL_COM_0344>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004177024, 20090831



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