Semantic roles and verbless constructions
Semantic roles constitute one of the most notorious notions in linguistics because they have been defined in numerous ways depending on the author’s theoretical framework and goals. Typically these definitions are somehow, more or less explicitly, based on verbs and their properties. In this chapter, semantic roles are discussed from a completely different perspective; we examine genuinely verbless constructions attested in Finnish newspaper headlines. The chapter addresses three main questions: First, what kinds of constructions do not need a finite verb to express dynamic events? Second, what kind of information remains unconceptualized in verbless constructions? And finally, what are semantic roles based on if there is no verb? The goal of the chapter is to show that verbs are not needed to define semantic roles, as an array of semantic roles can be recognized even in constructions lacking a verb.