ISSN: 1139-8736
Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000 Intermediate Roles

Among the mediated mapping accounts with intermediate roles, two stand out prominently: Role and Reference Grammar’s macroroles and Dowty’s Proto-roles mentioned above. They postulate intermediate roles to carry out the mapping to the syntax. These roles are assigned to arguments based on their semantic properties.

Role and Reference Grammar (Foley and van Valin 1984; van Valin 1990, 1993; van Valin and LaPolla 1997) makes use of Macroroles, two intermediate roles functioning as the interface between thematic and grammatical relations. The two macroroles are actor and undergoer. They represent the two main arguments of a transitive predication. They are called macroroles because they subsume a number of specific thematic relations. They are assigned to arguments according to how these are placed in the thematic hierarchy below:

(5.45) Agt > Effector > Exp > Loc > Th > Pat (van Valin 1990:226)
The prototypical actor is an agent and the prototypical undergoer is a patient. Effectors and experiencers can also be actor, and locatives and themes, undergoer. This assignment is dependent on the logical structure (LS) of each verb. The number of macroroles that a verb takes ranges from 0 to 2. Verbs with one macrorole match the traditional intransitive verbs, and verbs with two, the transitive. The assignment principles are summarized below:
(5.46) General Macrorole Assignment Principles: (van Valin 1990:227)
Number: the number of macroroles a verb takes is less than or equal to the number of arguments in its LS.
   1. If a verb has two or more arguments in its LS, it will take two macroroles.
   2. If a verb has one argument in its LS, it will take one macrorole.
Nature: for verbs which take one macrorole,
   1. If the verb has an activity predicate in its LS, the macrorole is actor.
   2. If the verb has no activity predicate in its LS, the macrorole is undergoer.
Thus, the mapping between the semantic arguments of verbs and the grammatical functions in a clause takes place in two steps. The first step assigns semantic relations and macrorole to the arguments in the LS of a verb. This is done following the hierarchy of thematic roles above, which applies universally to all languages. The second step maps the macroroles to the grammatical function. The relationship between the macroroles and the grammatical function is language specific. In English, for example, the unmarked mapping is for the actor of a transitive verb to be subject, but there is also a marked linking from the undergoer to subject, as in the passive. In other languages, like Dyirbal, the undergoer will be above the actor when selecting for subject.
Dowty’s Agent and Patient Proto-roles discussed above can be thought of as another type of mediated mapping with intermediate roles. They are different from macroroles in that each proto-role is associated with a set of entailments that can hold of the arguments of a verb, depending on its semantics. The mapping from the proto-roles to the grammatical relations is carried out by the "Argument Selection Principle", which states that the argument for which the verb entails the greatest number of Proto-agent properties will be the subject, and the argument with the greatest number of Proto-patient properties, the object. There is a competition, then, between the arguments to determine which of them will occupy the subject position and which will be the object.

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ISSN: 1139-8736
Depósito Legal: B-48039-2000