I´ve got another question from my diploma research.

My original English sentence was

This room seats 25 people.

This room was labeled as locative.

When I give you another example, the sentence

Die Kiste enthält viele Bücher

where die Kiste is labeled with the semantic role locative (example from Deutsche Grammatik, Helbig/Buscha, 2001), do you think dieser Raum in the sentence

Dieser Raum bietet Sitzplätze für 25 Leute

is locative or rather agent?

I would definitely put agent in the same sentence with have:

Dieser Raum hat Sitzplätze für 25 Leute.

And in the last possibility with the verb fassen:

Dieser Raum fasst 25 Leute.

I would probably put locative semantic role.

May you please express your opinion?

  • I'm really not sure what locative means. Google shows only links for locative case and as far as I understand you don't refer to cases. Would you please link to a document where locative is defined without reference to cases? – The terms agent and patient are not used much when talking about German grammar either. We talk about subjects and objects. But as far as I know, in an active voice the subject equals the agent. Thus, "Dieser Raum" is the agent. I have no idea what the patient would be ("Sitzplätze", probably). – Em1 Mar 17 '15 at 12:55
  • @Em1 : Agent, Locative, Patient etc. are labels used at the semantic level of the sentence, i.e. we may talk about syntactic level (subject and objects) and semantic level (Agent, Patient etc.) at the same time. This link shows short definition of common semantic roles (in English): www-01.sil.org/linguistics/GlossaryOfLinguisticTerms/… – Lenka Mar 17 '15 at 13:39
  • I see. Thanks. So, in that case "Dieser Raum" is certainly locative. However, is it possible to have no agent at all? Assuming there needs to be an agent in each and every sentence, "Dieser Raum" is both agent and locative. – Em1 Mar 17 '15 at 14:15
  • 1
    This is not German language related, but related to a specific field of study (linguistics). – Robert Mar 17 '15 at 16:54
  • @Robert I know but I hoped I would find someone who understands this topic and could help me. – Lenka Mar 17 '15 at 18:14

As a native German and English speaker (i.e. not a trained linguist) I would say that "Dieser Raum fasst 25 Leute." comes closest.

If you translate that back into English you get: "This room holds 25 people." the locative function of "this room" appears to stay intact.

Adding "Sitzplaetze" introduces ambiguity to the locative of "dieser Raum" because you now have two possible locatives: Dieser Raum i.e. this room or this space and Sitzplaetze, literally seating places.

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  • What would you think if it's "Dieser Raum bietet Platz für 25 Personen"? I think "Platz" is not referring to seating places, but just that's there enough room in the room. – Em1 Mar 17 '15 at 19:35
  • It's very hard for me to say because I'm operating mostly from my feeling of the language rather than a firm understanding of the grammatical rules.. That said, "dieser Raum bietet Platz" feels less ambiguous to me than the sentences involving Sitzplaetze. This is mostly because "dieser Raum" now envelops "Platz fuer 25 Personen." and because the space for 25 people acts as a cohesive structure. Your original suggestion "dieser Raum fasst" still feels less ambiguous though because the room and space are the same in that sentence. – Tehninjo0 Mar 17 '15 at 20:01

According to the linked document, I'd give four different possibilities.

  1. Agent if you take the verb bieten literally and regard the room as a kind of sentient entity capabale of volition, which deliberately offers you space or creates it for you.
  2. Locative if you regard the sentence as an observation by an observer to tries to identify how many people can be seated here, where this room is just the value of the parameter here.
  3. Range if you regard the sentence as an impression of space, where the impression is limited to this room due to the walls around it.
  4. Source if you regard the sentence as an impression of space, where the impression is generated by this room as the embodiment of space.

I'd personally favor Range and Source but this could be due to my physical (and therefore theoretical) approach to space.

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