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Charles J. Fillmore

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Charles J. Fillmore is an American linguist, and an Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Michigan in 1961. Professor Fillmore spent ten years at The Ohio State University before joining Berkeley's Department of Linguistics in 1971. He has been a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

He has been extremely influential in the areas of syntax and lexical semantics; he was one of the founders of cognitive linguistics, and developed the theories of Case Grammar (Fillmore 1968), and Frame Semantics (1976). In all of his research he has illuminated the fundamental importance of semantics, and its role in motivating syntactic and morphological phenomena. His earlier work, in collaboration with Paul Kay and George Lakoff, was generalized into the theory of Construction Grammar. He has had many students, including Adele Goldberg, Chris Johnson, Miriam R. L. Petruck, Len Talmy, and Eve Sweetser, .

His current major project is called FrameNet; it is a wide-ranging on-line description of the English lexicon. In this project, words are described in terms of the Frames they evoke. Data is gathered from the British National Corpus, annotated for semantic and syntactic relations, and stored in a database organized by both lexical items and Frames. The project is influential -- Issue 16 of the International Journal of Lexicography was devoted entirely to it. It has also inspired parallel projects, which investigate other languages, including Spanish, German, and Japanese.

His seminal publications include:

  • "The Case for Case" (1968). In Bach and Harms (Ed.): Universals in Linguistic Theory. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1-88.
  • "Frame semantics and the nature of language" (1976): . In Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences: Conference on the Origin and Development of Language and Speech. Volume 280: 20-32.
  • "Frame semantics" (1982). In Linguistics in the Morning Calm. Seoul, Hanshin Publishing Co., 111-137.
  • (with Sue Atkins) "Starting where the dictionaries stop: The challenge for computational lexicography". (1994). In Atkins, B. T. S. and A. Zampolli (Eds.) Computational Approaches to the Lexicon. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 349-393.
  • Lectures on Deixis (1997). Stanford: CSLI Publications. (originally distributed as Fillmore (1975/1971) Santa Cruz Lectures on Deixis by the University of Indiana Linguistics Club)

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