Inducing semantic roles

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Instead of defining semantic roles on the basis of the interpretation of lexical predicates, I will show that it is possible to induce semantic roles from the usage of case-like markers across a wide variety of languages. The assumptions behind this proposal are, first, that semantic roles are strongly contextually determined and, second, that similarity in coding of contextual roles across many different languages shows which contexts evoke the same (or better: very similar) semantic roles. This approach to the investigation of semantic roles will be exemplified by a study of case-like marking in a parallel text across a sample of fifteen languages. On this basis, a semantic map of contextual roles can be established, and it will be shown that higher-level abstractions, like semantic roles or even macro-roles, can be statistically derived from this diversity of marking across many languages. Further, a typology of alignment systems can be derived statistically. Keywords: Semantic roles; case; parallel text; linguistic typology; alignment


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