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Semantics for Translation Students



Ali Almanna

This book is an introduction to semantics for students and researchers who are new to the field, especially those interested in Arabic–English translation and Arabic–English contrastive studies. The book first presents key concepts in semantics, pragmatics, semiotics, syntax and morphology and gradually introduces readers to the central questions of semantics. These issues are then analysed and discussed in conjunction with the act of translating between Arabic and English. Seeking a balance between theoretical developments and empirical investigation, the book thus provides both a systematic overview of semantics and an application in the field of English and Arabic contrastive semantics, hence offering a resource for students and teachers of Arabic–English translation.


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Chapter 8: Semantic Roles


Chapter 8 Semantic Roles Key terms • Actor • Affected participant (patient) • Affecting participant (stimulus) • Agent • Argument • Associate (predicate) • Benefactor (benefactive) • Causer • Experiencer • Goal • Instrument • Location • Positioner • Recipient • Resultant (effect) • Semantic case • Semantic role • Source • Theme • Theta role In semantics, instead of focusing on the meanings of the lexical items uti- lized by the language user (be it a speaker or writer) to describe a particular situation, special attention can be paid to their semantic roles in the situa- tion described. A semantic role (also known as a “theta role”, “semantic case”, or “thematic role”) is the underlying relationship that an entity (semantically 122 Chapter 8 called “argument”) such as a person or thing has with the main verb in a clause. This chapter gives full consideration to these underlying relation- ships that entities have in certain situations. 8.1 Semantic roles In a situation like The boy opened the door with the key, there is a verb describing an action (i.e., opening the door), and three noun phrases or arguments describing the roles that the entities (such as people, places, things, etc.) have with the main verb in the clause. Cast in more technical terms, in the above situation, the boy fills the role of agent (also known by some scholars as “actor”), the door fills the role of theme, and the key fills the role of instrument, as shown below: The boy opened the door with the key. agent = opener action theme = opened instrument As discussed above, some scholars use “agent...

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