Double semantic roles in direct and metaphorical meanings of polysemous verbs.

2017. №2, 7-32

Valentina Ju. Apresjan
National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation;
Vinogradov Russian Language Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, 119019, Russian Federation;


The paper addresses the phenomenon of double semantic roles (endpoint — place, goal — cause), which act as two possible realizations of the same semantic valency and which have distinct morphosyntactic expressions — accusative and prepositional case, respectively. The paper attempts to determine semantic classes of verbs characterized by this type of semantic structure, as well as identify the shifts in interpretation, which occur in each of the two possible morphosyntatic realizations. The study demonstrates that double semantic roles and the ensuing morphosyntactic variation are typical primarily of caused motion verbs of semantically liminal classes, which combine the semantics of caused motion with other components, such as placement, deformation, creation of an image. There are certain semantic peculiarities typical of each of the realizations. For example, the role of place calls for nouns with the meaning of spaces or large surfaces, but not containers; the role of endpoint calls for containers or small surfaces. Intentional actions are better combined with the expression of endpoint; unintentional predicates favor the expression of place. On the whole, double roles are considerably more frequent in direct senses than in metaphorical ones, possibly because greater semantic fuzziness typical for the former is replaced by higher semantic specificity in the latter, which limits the syntactic expression as well.