1. Semantic roles The section contains a discussion of what S(emantic) R(oles) relevant (a) for general discussion, (b) for Latin. SR’s are introduced by most authors without further discussion (e.g. Croft, 1991). As soon as one asks oneself how many semantic roles should be distinguished, one realizes that there are virtually as many roles as there are possible different participants in a state of affairs. For example, we speak of a SR Accompaniement in cases as “I go to school with Mary”. But what about “I go to school with my books”? On the one hand, we tend to conceive the second sentence as based on an extension of the first: in a translated way, the books ‘accompany’ the agent. On the other hand, while in the first sentence we have two agents (“I go to school” + “Mary goes to school”), in the second we have an agent and a patient (“I go to school” + “I carry my books”). Distinctions must stop at a certain point: but exactly what point is a very hard question to answer. If we turn to studies where this limit is explicitly stated, the answer is unsatisfactory. I start with concrete relations (first of all Space), because I follow an approach based on meaning and meaning extension; consequently, I assume that forms, too, are relevant (not only functions): this assumption of course is based on a more fundamental assumption, i.e. that forms (including grammatical forms) have a meaning. I think that the strictly functional assumption, inherited by classical structuralism, that forms have at the best a distinctive function blurs a number of interesting facts about SR and their mutual relations, which, if noted, lead to less complicated, more ‘natural’, explanations of linguistic phenomena ( I assume a Cognitive Grammar framework. Note that, although similar to the traditional approach, the CG approach does not try to establish a Grundbedeutung for each form, that can explain all its uses. Rather, each form is conceived as constituting an example of ‘structured polysemy’, whereby different meanings can co-exist, in a radial category structure). 2. Space The spatial relations discussed include Location, Direction, Source, and Path (as Path I understand both examples as “I go through the door” and “I walk along the sea shore”, which is commonly referred to as ‘extension’ in Latin handbooks). Note that, syntactically speaking, these SR are not all, and not always, on the same plan. In particular, Location is certainly argumental with verbs like ‘be’, ‘stand’, ‘abide’, etc. However, most frequently it is adverbial: Direction, on the other hand, is virtually always argumental, since it typically occurs with bivalent motion verbs. Source and Path are virtually aways adverbial (but what about verbs such as ‘pass by’?). Since, as far as I can judge, there is no marking difference for these SR in either syntactic function, I will try to keep the syntactic discussion as limited as possible. One of the most interesting issues raised by Latin in the field of spatial relations is the use of plain cases vs. P(repositional) P(hrase)s. It is well known that plain cases only occur with toponyms and a restricted number of other nouns with spatial reference, and that their use involves retention of an otherwise disappeared case, the locative. The problem is further complicated by the fact that the locative only survives limited to the first and second declension, nouns of the third declension using the ablative in its place. So for nouns of the third declension, the ablative can express Location, Source, and even Path. With this situation one would expect an increase in the use of prepositions; however, apparently this is not the case until very late: in some SR (e.g. Source with nouns that denote spatial regions) the use of plain cases increases after Plautus. (Of course the relation between the use of plain cases and of PP’s for the same SR is one of the most important issues treated in this chapter and is not limited to space: see § 9). 3. Time 4. Causal roles Causal roles are those taken by the participant(s) that initiate, or have a part in bringing about a certain state of affairs. Major causal roles are Agent, Instrument, and Cause, to which Reason, Force, Causee, and/or Intermediary are usually added. In keeping with what I said in the introduction, I will basically assume that Force and Intermediary, rather than separate semantic roles, as non-prototypical instantiations of Agent and Instrument. Causee is the role taken by the secondary agent of causative constructions; as such, it is syntactically limited to arguments, so I will not discuss it. Agent is of course the role of the subject: in this section I will only be concerned with agents of passive verbs, which are syntactically adverbials. 5. Benefactive 6. Comitative 7. Circumstance/manner 8. Purpose 9. Plain cases vs. prepositional phrases Since Latin had cases and the Romance languages don’t, it would be easy to assume that the use of PP’s in the place of plain cases simply increases over time. However, this is by no means the case: Plautus has comparatively more PP’s that some of the classical prose writers (poetry is still another matter). Apparently, the preference for plain cases is connected to more complicated factors, as stylistic register, degree of standardization of the written language, sometimes simply personal choice of specific authors. Only very late do we find a significant and unidirectional tendency towards replacing plain cases by means of PP’s. Since doublets involving a plain case and one or more prepositional expression(s) are available for alomst all SR from the very beginning (except perhaps for Instrument and Beneficiary, for which PP’s appear late), I will address the issue as a whole in a separate section, rather than splitting it up under each SR. As a result, the sections devoted to SR’s will not contain all historical facts and explanation, the bulk of which will be treated here.
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