Concept

Theta role

Summary
Theta roles are the names of the participant roles associated with a predicate: the predicate may be a verb, an adjective, a preposition, or a noun. If an object is in motion or in a steady state as the speakers perceives the state, or it is the topic of discussion, it is called a theme. The participant is usually said to be an argument of the predicate. In generative grammar, a theta role or θ-role is the formal device for representing syntactic argument structure—the number and type of noun phrases—required syntactically by a particular verb. For example, the verb put requires three arguments (i.e., it is trivalent). The formal mechanism for implementing a verb's argument structure is codified as theta roles. The verb put is said to "assign" three theta roles. This is coded in a theta grid associated with the lexical entry for the verb. The correspondence between the theta grid and the actual sentence is accomplished by means of a bijective filter on the grammar known as the theta c
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