1

Do people still study Frame Semantics?

As an elective, many year ago, I took one course in a topic called Semantics. I remember my professor saying that dictionaries are problematic since they try to tell you one particular meaning of a word is better than another. So she does not like this at all: Webester's Dictionary, Roget's Thesauraus -- forget it!

Instead she suggested we look at word relationships and frames.

  • WordNet is a website where one can look up words and find various senses and related words. A house can be
    • a place where someone lives
    • an aristocratic family line
    • a casino (e.g. "the house always wins")
    • etc.
  • FrameNet I understood frames less, but it's sort of like each word comes with a "frame" describing how it is used:
    • Milton TOOK the can of beer out of the refrigerator.
    • An Agent removes a Theme from a Source so that the it is in the Agent's possession. Milton TOOK the can of beer out of the refrigerator.
    • I GOT two whistles from John.
    • A Recipient starts off without the Theme in their possession, and then comes to possess it.

It's not hard to find resources on Google (e.g. here) but I am not a linguist and I can't tell one way or the other. Does this theory still exist? Does it get applied outside of very specialized settings?

1

It certainly still exists, and FrameNet in particular is an active project; I know a couple of people who work on it. Not quite sure what you mean about whether it gets applied outside of specialized settings. Semantics is a relatively small subfield of linguistics (in terms of people who work on it, I mean, as compared with e.g. phonology or syntax), but frame semantics is definitely among the theories that semanticists work with these days, in the US anyway.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    FrameNet's proposal seems very persuasive even if the frames themselves are somewhat bulky. They seem natural in many contexts even if culturally we are accustomed to looking at a dictionary for reference. – john mangual Apr 22 '16 at 23:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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