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Modern Grammars of Case$
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John M. Anderson

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199297078

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199297078.001.0001

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The Identity of Semantic Relations

The Identity of Semantic Relations

(p.79) 5 The Identity of Semantic Relations
Modern Grammars of Case

John M. Anderson

Oxford University Press

This chapter confronts what has been seen as the major problem with case grammars: the delimitation of the set of semantic relations. It argues that despite these, semantic relations cannot be eliminated from the syntax. It also looks at the extent to which Fillmore’s principles of contrast and complementary can be applied to semantic relations, concluding that a criterial approach is insufficient in the absence of a theory to explain why these criteria are criterial. It outlines one attempt dating from the 1970s to resolve these problems — the localist theory — propounded earlier in the 20th century by Hjelmslev. Localism assigns the domain of spatial relations to what is manifested by case: only distinctions that can be so interpreted are distinctions in semantic relation. An example is given of an ‘abstract’ semantic relation (‘experiencer’) that can and should be interpreted in spatial terms.

Keywords:   contrast, complementary, criteria, localism, experiencer

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