Perspectives on Semantic Roles. Typological studies in language 106
Semantic roles have continued to intrigue the linguists for more than four decades now, starting with determining their kind and number, with their morphological expression, and with their interaction with argument structure and syntax. The focus in this volume is on typological and historical issues. The papers focus on the cross-linguistic identification of semantic-role equivalents, on the regularity of, and exceptions concerning change and grammaticalization in semantic roles, the variation in encoding the roles of direction and experiencer in specific languages, presenting evidence for identifying a new semantic role of speech addressee in Caucasian languages, on semantic roles in word formation, and finally a cross-linguistic comparison of the functions and the grammaticalization of the ethical dative in some Indo-European languages. The book will be of interest to anyone involved with case and semantic roles, with the syntax semantic interface, and with semantic change an grammaticalization.
In Standard Average European (SAE), addressees of speech verbs are marked with dative or, in languages lacking cases, with dative-like prepositions. This merger is commonly explained through a metaphor: the information transferred in a speech act is said to be construed as the object being transferred, or Theme, and the addressee as its Recipient. This status of the addressee as a derived concept, a metaphor of the Recipient, and its dative marking in many languages rather than in SAE alone, is the reason why the addressee is usually not considered to be a separate semantic role. Based on data from East Caucasian languages that use different marking for Recipients and addressees of speech, I argue that speech addressees constitute a separate semantic role, also an animate Goal, but not a metaphor of the Recipient. Focusing on case marking assigned by the main speech verb, speech acts are shown to be construed in East Caucasian as spatial configurations: the crucial component is their directedness towards the addressee. In the conclusion, I come back to SAE and question the status of the dative addressees. Taking into account that the dative often develops from lative markers, it is suggested that, in the languages with dative addressees, one should also consider an alternative to the conventional explanation: merging the Recipient and the addressee in one marking may result not from a metaphorical extension but from formal under-specification of two different animate Goals.