I have a question about semantic roles in Latin and Russian.


Quibusdam […]      sudor            erumpit.
someone. DAT.PL     sweat. NOM.SG    come out.PRES.3SG.
‘Some people start sweating.’


U    nego       poshel   pot.
with he.GEN.SG   ran.M      sweat.NOM.SG
‘He started sweating.’

U    nego        poshla   krov’.
with he.GEN.SG   ran.F      blood.NOM.SG
“He started bleeding.”

If I understand it correctly, ‘quibusdam’ in Latin and ‘nego’ in Russian are either an author (effector) or a patient but not an experiencer. What about nominative subjects in those sentences, ‘sudor’ in Latin, ‘pot’ and ‘krov’’ in Russian, or "someone' and 'he' in the English examples? Which semantic role do they all have?

NB: One of the reasons why I am asking is because I want to know which dativus it is in Latin (commodi, auctoris etc.)

  • By the way, I just noticed, but, the second example in Russian is weird. Его (ego) is masculine, yet the example uses the verb пошла (poshla) which is feminine. The feminine genitive should be ей (ei, short i), if I remember correctly.
    – Alenanno
    Jul 9, 2012 at 10:12
  • 2
    @Alenanno, the verb "poshla" agrees in gender with the subject "krov'", a feminine noun.
    – Alex B.
    Jul 9, 2012 at 14:09

1 Answer 1


I would call quibusdam a dativus incommodi here, i.e. a dative of inconvenience, the negative counterpart of the dativus commodi. Translated more literally, you would have:

Sweat (sudor) breaks out (erumpit) for some people (quibusdam).

I'd call sudor a force / natural cause, and quibusdam an experiencer in this translation. I choose experiencer because "breaking out" is not something that normally affects something or someone: you just break out of prison or out of a shell, but you don't directly affect someone by doing so. Sweat breaks out of the body, and the person to whom the body belongs experiences this. In this way I believe your analysis would stay closer to the "spirit" of the Latin construction; Latin erumpo works just like that.

If you translate it more freely, as you did, you might change the thematic structure. This shows that thematic roles are not extremely "deep", i.e. they are deeper than syntax but not as deep as illocution; we must use syntactic information (mainly the dative here) to make up a thematic role for "some people". The same situation can be presented by means of different thematic structures. This, together with the fact that the boundaries between the roles are often vague, shows how the usefulness of thematic roles is not without limits.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.