[bottom of page 7 of handout]

The meaning of the term “Patient”

information taken from Roger Brown's A First Language (1973)

Patient is in the index: defined, 27,150, 230; contrast with agent, 191-5. See also Object of a predicate, which is 136, 140, 149, 150-55; defined, 143-4

Role Definition Examples
Agent Someone or something which causes or instigates and action or process Usually animate but not always, an agent must be perceived to have its own motivational force Harriet sang. The men laughed. The wind ripped the curtains.
Patient Someone or something either in a given state or suffering a change of state. <undergoes a change> The wood is dry. He cut the wood.
Source: Adapted from Chafe (1970)

p.150 just hit, push pull, kiss, feed, For all these verbs the semantic agent becomes the grammatical subject and the semantic object or patient becomes the grammatical object.

p.151 Adam sees Eve, Adam hears Eve. The Adam role is called an experiencer by Chafe, and Chafe would consider the Eve role a variety of patient <in the state of being seen by Adam, I guess>

p.230 Brown does not use patient quite so generally as Chafe (1970) does