[developers] Difference between neg_rel/modifiers and modals

Ann Copestake aac10 at cl.cam.ac.uk
Fri May 19 10:45:25 CEST 2017

my intuition is that events (eventualities) with modals make some sense 
in an object language:

Kim can close the window.


e refers to the state of Kim having the ability, much as in

Kim believes Sandy slept.


we can talk about the state of Kim having the belief.

Kim could close the window for an hour.

has a reading where it's Kim's ability that lasts for an hour (e.g., 
follow up with "and then was too weak") - that seems OK in terms of 
eventuality modification.

Originally event semantics didn't include states and people argued both 
ways, and off the top of my head, I can't remember who ... Still, states 
make a certain amount of sense in terms of a collection of properties or 
potentialities associated with a spatio-temporal location, in a way that 
the not "event" and the probably "event" don't.  I think one might find 
discussion of why not events don't make sense in some of the situation 
semantics literature.

Decomposed events have been proposed in a number of contexts where the 
adverbial seems to refer to a preparatory state or whatever. 
Higginbotham and various Generative Lexicon people (Pustejovsky et al), 
for instance.  e.g.,

(13) Mary came in an hour for an hour.

from a paper that talks about the event decomposition idea (which I just 
found with an extremely cursory search, so don't take it as a proper 

So the idea that one can say that there's a preparatory state of not 
talking in:

(2a) Kim didn't speak for a long time.

is perhaps sort of plausible.  i.e., one could claim that the single 
event allows an underspecification of the two readings.
But then

(2b) For a long time, Kim didn't speak. ;;; Kim was silent for a long time

is problematic in that it only has the one reading.  One could stipulate 
that, of course, but it's not pretty.

Maybe I'm wrong to be so worried and someone has seriously proposed not 
events.  Ask Alex? What one's looking for (in terms of the object 
language) is a literature where the denotation is discussed - not simply 
an argument from ambiguity / readings.



On 19/05/2017 04:17, Emily M. Bender wrote:
> Right---I'm trying to understand why it is that we give different 
> representations
> for not v. other modal operators wrt which event variable is exposed, 
> with the
> longer range goal of getting to tests that could in principle be 
> applied in other languages
> too, so we could find out if the representation we pick for sentential 
> negation
> works across languages.
> Collecting the data that has come up so far in this thread:
> (1a) We could unexpectedly close the window. ;;; 
>  could(unexpectedly(close)) / unexpectedly(could(close))
> (1b) We did not unexpectedly close the window. ;;; 
> not(unexpectedly(close))
> (1c) Unexpectedly we did not close the window. ;;; 
> unexpectedly(not(close))
> [Aside: The reason I was asking about extraction is that we do have a 
> construction that
> allows an adverb to attach low in the semantics but appear at the left 
> edge of the clause.
> That would predict not(unexpectedly(close)) for (1c), which I think 
> isn't available.]
> (2a) Kim didn't speak for a long time. ;;; Kim spoke for only a short 
> time / Kim was silent for a long time
> (2b) For a long time, Kim didn't speak. ;;; Kim was silent for a long time
> If (1a) is really ambiguous, is that meant to be an argument that 
> 'could' has its
> own event that can be modified?  Why is it less problematic for a 
> modal operator like
> 'could' to introduce an event (in terms of the underlying semantics) 
> than something
> like 'probably' or 'not'?  Do the readings of (1b) and (1c) correspond 
> to the two readings of (1a)?
> Just now it seems to me that the two readings of (1a) and the pair 
> (1b)/(1c) aren't really
> relevant to the question of which INDEX is propagated, because in any 
> case the ARG1 of
> unexpectedly or not is handle-valued.  But, we'd consider 'for a long 
> time' to be a non-scopal
> modifier in (2), right?   So what do we want 'for' to take as its ARG 
> in (2b)/the second
> reading of (2a)?
> Emily
> On Thu, May 18, 2017 at 6:55 PM, Guy Emerson <gete2 at cam.ac.uk 
> <mailto:gete2 at cam.ac.uk>> wrote:
>     I think Emily's goal was to figure out what representation we
>     should use, and whether we need to have different representations
>     cross-linguistically.  (Emily, is that a fair summary?)  I can see
>     that a negated event could be problematic, but I was going off the
>     ERG semantics, where neg_rel has two arguments, so it looks like
>     we do have not(e,P).  In DMRS, we can avoid saying whether there
>     is an event, but it's there in the MRS.
>     2017-05-18 8:01 GMT-07:00 Ann Copestake <aac10 at cl.cam.ac.uk
>     <mailto:aac10 at cl.cam.ac.uk>>:
>         I do think it's really important to be clear what the goals
>         are.  Are you trying to figure out what the representation
>         should be in terms of the underlying semantics?  Because then
>         talking about negation events could well be problematic. 
>         There are moves one can make which might work - e.g.,
>         situations in Barwise and Perry terms (but then that doesn't
>         necessarily fit with other things we're doing) - but one can't
>         simply write e.g., not(e,P) and assume it's meaningful.  I
>         mean, maybe you want e to refer to the period of time when
>         not(P) holds.  But I guess you can see that this is not
>         something that is obviously OK.
>         Alternatively, you're essentially leaving the object language
>         up to someone else and trying to come up with a representation
>         which captures the right things about the syntax/semantics
>         interface.  But I still think you have to know something about
>         plausible target object languages.
>         All best,
>         Ann
>         On 17/05/17 21:14, Guy Emerson wrote:
>>         To bring this back to Emily's question, I can think of two
>>         ways that we might represent the "silent for a long time"
>>         reading:
>>         Option 1. "for a long time" takes the neg_rel's variable as
>>         an argument.  This could be constructed compositionally using
>>         the negation-as-a-modal analysis that Emily mentioned.  This
>>         would then allow neg_rel to have a consistent semantics in
>>         the Grammar Matrix.
>>         On the downside, if we push the INDEX up to the neg_rel, we
>>         can't get hold of _speak_v_rel any more - which we need if
>>         we're going to model adverbs attaching after negation but
>>         scoping underneath negation.  With DMRS composition, we can
>>         construct it compositionally even if we stick with the scopal
>>         modifier approach (so the INDEX is still "speak"), and then
>>         connect an ARG/EQ link to the LTOP.  This would, however,
>>         mean relaxing the constraints in the proposed DMRS algebra,
>>         since we have an /EQ link selecting the LTOP, not the INDEX.
>>         Option 2. "for a long time" shares a label with the neg_rel,
>>         but still takes _speak_v_rel as an argument.  So then "for a
>>         long time" is outside the scope of negation.  To construct
>>         this compositionally, we want _speak_v_rel to be the INDEX
>>         (for both MRS and DMRS composition).
>>         If we take this approach, then we can treat modals as scopal
>>         modifiers and still get two readings.  So this doesn't
>>         directly answer Emily's question, because now there are two
>>         different ways of getting two readings.  But it would at
>>         least suggest that we can treat modals as scopal modifiers,
>>         which would allow a more consistent semantics of negation in
>>         the Grammar Matrix.
>>         That's the main thing I wanted to say - but Re: Robin Hood:
>>         I've found Ivan Sag's discussion of the jailing Robin Hood
>>         examples (https://www.academia.edu/2798317/Adjunct_scope
>>         <https://www.academia.edu/2798317/Adjunct_scope>), apparently
>>         discussed by Dowty (1979). I can see the relevance, in that
>>         "for three years" could refer to the time in jail, or the
>>         time spent putting him in jail.  But I'm not convinced by the
>>         argument that we should decompose this as a causative -
>>         otherwise, the verb "sentence" also seems like it could be
>>         decomposed into something like cause(be-in-jail), but it
>>         doesn't pattern like "jail":
>>         The Sheriff of Nottingham jailed Robin Hood for three years.
>>         *The Sheriff of Nottingham jailed Robin Hood to three years.
>>         The Sheriff of Nottingham sentenced Robin Hood for three
>>         years. (repeated jailing reading)
>>         The Sheriff of Nottingham sentenced Robin Hood to three
>>         years. (single jailing reading)
>>         In any case, we can get different readings for verbs without
>>         an obvious lexical decomposition:
>>         I ate meat for a year (but then became vegetarian)
>>         I ate meat for an hour (and then I was very full)
>>         Bouma&Malouf&Sag also discuss "open again", but similarly,
>>         "Kim bought X and sold it again" has a reading where this is
>>         the first time Kim sold it.  And explicitly representing that
>>         reading by decomposing "sell" would require something like
>>         cause(be-sold).  This seems dubious to me.  I'm much more
>>         tempted to say that "again" has a fuzzier meaning than Dowty
>>         assumes.
>>         I couldn't find any examples which convinced me that there's
>>         an interaction with the morphosyntax, so I feel like this is
>>         all something that we can safely leave out of the MRS.
>>         2017-05-17 3:57 GMT-07:00 Ann Copestake <aac10 at cl.cam.ac.uk
>>         <mailto:aac10 at cl.cam.ac.uk>>:
>>             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,
>>             Ann
>>             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
> -- 
> Emily M. Bender
> Professor, Department of Linguistics
> Check out CLMS on facebook! http://www.facebook.com/uwclma

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.delph-in.net/archives/developers/attachments/20170519/189a9df2/attachment-0001.html>

More information about the developers mailing list