[developers] Difference between neg_rel/modifiers and modals

Ann Copestake aac10 at cl.cam.ac.uk
Wed May 17 12:57:05 CEST 2017

I get those readings but note:

3. For a long time, Kim didn't speak.

only has your reading 2.

so although I'd want to try and give an underspecified semantics for 
your sentence, one would have to do that in a way that recognised this 
has a different semantics.

for negation there's an extensive literature - I'd recommend Horn's book.

For some of these type of examples, I've played around with an account 
that decomposes the event variable so that one might claim that the 
negation was operating over different parts of a complex event structure 
in standard MRS.  But that only allows for 3 in a very stipulative way, 
if it works at all.  Negated events are complicated.

Incidentally, Ivan Sag (somewhere) had a discussion of examples like:

   The Sheriff of Nottingham jailed Robin Hood for three years.

which may be relevant - I honestly can't remember.

Anyway - I was trying to answer a slightly different type of question, 
which was what the semantics of unexpected_rel might be. I was just 
trying to convey the modal flavour - not talking about the different 
readings the English sentence might have.  It may be that with some sort 
of account that did the negation examples, one could also get a 
non-scopal `unexpectedly' to give two structurally different readings, 
but that's a somewhat different issue.

All best,


On 17/05/17 02:08, Guy Emerson wrote:
> So, if I've understood correctly:
> - using a scopal modifier for negation only leaves one variable for 
> non-scopal modifiers
> - using a modal for negation would allow non-scopal modifiers to take 
> either the main verb's variable, or the modal's variable
> But then, what about "Kim didn't speak for a long time", which I think 
> can have two readings:
> 1. Kim spoke for only a short time
> 2. Kim was silent for a long time
> It looks like the ERG just gets the first reading.
> 2017-05-11 13:55 GMT-07:00 Ann Copestake <aac10 at cl.cam.ac.uk 
> <mailto:aac10 at cl.cam.ac.uk>>:
>     I think /unexpectedly/ is scopal in at least some circumstances. 
>     Specifically I would say the semantics of /unexpectedly/ is modal
>     (in a broad sense) - e.g., I could treat it in terms of possible
>     worlds that I'm considering at some timepoint t - if in only 1% of
>     possible worlds does P happen, and P actually happens by t' (where
>     t' > t) then unexpected(P).  This is very crude and incomplete,
>     but all I'm trying to do here is convey the modal intuition.
>     Under this interpretation:
>       unexpected(not(win(Kim)))
>     means that at time t I thought not(win(Kim)) had 1% chance, but at
>     t' not(win(Kim)) has come to pass
>     this isn't the same as:
>       not(unexpected(win(Kim)))
>     which means it-is-not-the-case that [ at time t I thought win(Kim)
>     had 1% chance and at t' win(Kim) has come to pass ]  i.e., either
>     I expected Kim to win all along or Kim actually didn't win
>>     Also, in (3), unexpectedly could be a sentence-initial discourse
>>     adverb (scopal?) or an adverb extracted from lower in the clause...
>     As I remember it, the discussion about possible sentence situation
>     meaning is a semantic one rather than depending on whether there's
>     extraction or not.
>     All best,
>     Ann
>     On 11/05/2017 21:13, Emily M. Bender wrote:
>>     Thanks, Ann, for the quick reply! This connects to other things
>>     I've been
>>     curious about recently, including how we decide if something like
>>     "unexpectedly"
>>     is scopal or not. Also, in (3), unexpectedly could be a
>>     sentence-initial discourse
>>     adverb (scopal?) or an adverb extracted from lower in the clause...
>>     Emily
>>     On Wed, May 10, 2017 at 2:11 AM, Ann Copestake
>>     <aac10 at cl.cam.ac.uk <mailto:aac10 at cl.cam.ac.uk>> wrote:
>>         I think the idea is to represent the contrast between:
>>         1   We could unexpectedly close the window.
>>         either ability to close or actual closure is unexpected
>>         2   We did not unexpectedly close the window.
>>         only the closure (if it had happened) would be unexpected.
>>         I don't think this is actually the best analysis.  For
>>         instance, for me,
>>         3   Unexpectedly we did not close the window.
>>         has another reading, which we are not capturing in MRS. 
>>         Claudia Maiernborn would (perhaps) treat this as a sentential
>>         situation rather than an event modification and it may be
>>         that analysis is also available for 1 instead of the modal
>>         modification analysis.
>>         I'm afraid I don't have time to discuss this properly at the
>>         moment, though.  I feel such a discussion has taken place,
>>         but don't remember the venue.
>>         All best,
>>         Ann
>>         On 10/05/2017 01:13, Emily M. Bender wrote:
>>>         Dear all,
>>>         I'm curious about the different in analysis between neg_rel
>>>         and (other) scopal adverbial
>>>         modifiers on the one hand and modals on the other in the
>>>         treatment of the INDEX:
>>>         In (1) and (2), the INDEX of the whole MRS points to the
>>>         ARG0 of _sleep_v_rel:
>>>         (1) Kim doesn't sleep.
>>>         (2) Kim probably sleeps.
>>>         ... where in (3) and (4) it points to the ARG0 of _can_v_rel
>>>         and _would_v_rel respectively:
>>>         (3) Kim can sleep.
>>>         (4) Kim would sleep.
>>>         I'm wondering what difference we intend to model here.
>>>          (This question comes up now
>>>         because we're looking at negation in my grammar engineering
>>>         class, and the out-of-the-box
>>>         analysis for languages which express negation with an
>>>         auxiliary has neg_rel falling
>>>         in the latter class.)
>>>         Thanks,
>>>         Emily
>>>         -- 
>>>         Emily M. Bender
>>>         Professor, Department of Linguistics
>>>         Check out CLMS on facebook! http://www.facebook.com/uwclma
>>     -- 
>>     Emily M. Bender
>>     Professor, Department of Linguistics
>>     Check out CLMS on facebook! http://www.facebook.com/uwclma

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