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 Answer 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.

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    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. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 23:58

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