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CAS LX 502 Semantics

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  1. CAS LX 502Semantics 4b. Events and modification 4.1-4.4

  2. Adverbs • How might we describe the meaning of an adverb? Say, loudly. • The hooligan shouted loudly. • Well, it seems a bit like this: • There was a shouting event. • The hooligan was the Agent of that event. • It was a loud event. • Adverbs seem to modify events

  3. Adverb(-like thing)s as event modifiers • The hooligan shouted loudly on Saturday atop the bench by the tree in the rain. • This asserts the existence of an event that: • Is a shouting • Has the hooligan as Agent • Is loud • Is on Saturday • Is atop the bench • Is by the tree • Is in the rain • Great for manner and temporal adverbs.

  4. Manner, location, and temporal adverb(ial)s • Manner • Pat ate the sandwich quickly • Chris answered the question brilliantly • Lynn entered the intersection cautiously • Location • Pat drove home in the rain • Chris slipped on Comm Ave • Temporal • Lynn won the lottery yesterday • Tracy paid the damage deposit in August

  5. Subject-oriented adverbs • Zinédine intentionally hit Marco. • Marco was intentionally hit by Zinédine. • It’s not the whole event that is intentional, it is somehow related to one of the participants. The subject? Well, yes. The Agent? Maybe. • That second one seems a bit ambiguous

  6. Speaker-oriented adverbs • Annoyingly, Pat was late. • Predictably, Pat (stupidly) answered the questions (brilliantly)

  7. Modification • Pat awoke • Pat awoke suddenly • Pat awoke suddenly this morning • This is a yellow pencil • This is yellow • This is a pencil

  8. Modification • Adjectives modify nouns by adding additional conditions. Yellow is an intersective adjective.

  9. “Vague” adjectives • Sam is a tall cockroach. • Hydrogen is a big atom. • Menkaure’s is a small Pyramid. • Stampy is atall elephant.

  10. Stampy is a tall elephant • It seems that all Stampy is a tall elephant can mean is “Stampy is tall for an elephant.” • This is different from yellow. • To get the meaning of tall right seems to require taking into account the meaning of the noun…

  11. Stampy is a tall elephant • To describe the meaning of yellow, we might simply say something like: • x[x is yellow] • But tall seems to be of a “higher order” (more complex type) • Px[x is tall compared to members of {y:P(y)}]

  12. Modification • Given that you can use yellow pencil wherever you use pencil, we can suppose that the syntax of adjectives would be something like this. • N  Adj N • Adj  yellow • N  pencil • What does this predict already? (Given a more elaborate lexicon, at least…) N Adj N yellow pencil

  13. Modification • And the semantics would be as you’d expect: • [yellow]M = x[x is yellow in M] • [pencil]M = x[x is a pencil in M] • Both type <e,t> • Note: I’m taking the same shortcut (or, “being equally sloppy”) here as in the F2 definitions, skipping the “F(yellow)” step. N Adj N yellow pencil

  14. Modification • Trying to find the semantic value of the whole thing leads to a problem, of a sort— • We need a new way to combine things: • Predicate modification[]M = x[(x) (x)] N Adj N yellow pencil

  15. Modification • Thus: the whole thing winds up with a semantic value of: • z[[yellow]M(z)  [pencil]M(z)] • z[[x[x is yellow in M]](z) [[x[x is a pencil in M]](z)] • z[z is yellow in M  z is a pencil in M] • Predicate modification[]M = z[(z) (z)] • “Alphabetic variants”: z[P(z)]= x[P(x)] N Adj N yellow pencil

  16. Predicate Modification • So, it turns out we need a third rule of interpretation (for where functional application cannot apply): • Functional application:[ga b ]M = [b]M ( [a]M ) or [a]M ( [b]M ) whichever is defined • Pass-Up:[ba]M = [a]M • Predicate modification:[]M = z[(z) (z)]

  17. Stampy is a tall elephant • For tall, as we already saw, this won’t work because tall is a bit more complex. • What we need is not to intersect the two, but rather to have tall take elephant as an argument. • Assume: • [elephant]M = x[x is an elephant in M] • Type <e,t> N Adj N tall elephant

  18. Stampy is a tall elephant • [tall]M = P[x[x is tall compared to members of {y:P(y)}] • The idea: tall takes elephant (call it “P”) and gives back the (<e,t>) property: • x[x is tall compared to members of {y:[elephant]M(y)}] • x[x is tall compared to the set of elephants in M] • What type is tall then? • Takes <e,t>, returns <e,t>. N Adj N tall elephant

  19. Different mechanisms? • Revisiting yellow—does the better theory have two different ways of combining adjectives and nouns? • Could we not treat yellow the same way as we treat tall? • [yellow]M = P[x[x is yellow  P(x)]] • We could. It works just as well. However, we will need PM elsewhere too: • Stampy is an elephant (that) Bart won. N Adj N tall elephant

  20. Even harder cases • Consider an adjective like fake: • Fake gun • How might we describe the semantics of fake? • Is it intersective? • Can we model it the same way we modeled tall?

  21. The effect of is a • So far we’ve really only dealt with tall elephant, but what about the context of a full sentence like Stampy is a tall elephant? • We seem to get the right meaning if we simply ignoreis and a. • Then it comes out just like Stampy swims. • This might make a little bit more sense out of the way we treated is boring. • We could get away with that because is actually doesn’t contribute anything. We might say it is there simply because the syntax of English (not the semantics) requires it.

  22. What kind of thing is a(n)? • A noun phrase (a noun with extra stuff—like an article or an adjective; something that can be the subject of a sentence) with a(n) is called indefinite. • Intuitively, we might class a(n) together with the or every (articles, or determiners)—but their effect on the meaning seems to be different. • Specifically, it doesn’t seem like a(n) adds anything either (like is didn’t).

  23. Cf. the • The article the, on the other hand, does seem to have a contribution to the meaning. • The tall elephant is hungry. • Bond is hungry. • We’d worked out tall elephant to be a property. But The tall elephant seems to refer to an individual. • The seems to “convert” a property into an individual. How?

  24. The, definite article • What the seems to do is pick some individual that has the property. • Which one? • Well, if you use the, you seem to assume that there is some salient individual with the property that you can pick. • Specifically, thepresupposes that there is a unique and salient individual.

  25. The elephant • So, how could we model the? • First, we need to get it to be generated by the syntax. • Considerations: • The (tall) (yellow) elephant • *The an elephant • *Tall the elephant • Adjectives can be iterated, but articles/determiners cannot. • Combining a N and Adj produces another N (with which an Adj can be combined) • Combining a Det and a N produces something different. DP Det N the elephant

  26. The elephant • Thus: • Det  the, a(n) • DP  Det N • And to resolve this with the rest of the grammar • DP  N • DP  Bond, Loren, … • (replacing N  Bond, Loren, …) • S  DP VP • (replacing S  N VP) • VP  Vt DP • (replacing S  N VP) DP Det N Adj N the yellow elephant

  27. The elephant • Now, (yellow) elephant was a property, <e,t>, true/false of individuals. • And the (yellow) elephant is an individual (some salient, unique individual with the property (yellow) elephant). • So, the takes a property (<e,t>) and returns an individual (<e>). • <<e,t>,e> DP Det N Adj N the yellow elephant

  28. The elephant • So, the: • [the]M = P[x such that P(x)] • Presupposes there is a unique x to choose, that is familiar. • There are additional complexities, but this will do for the moment. DP Det N Adj N the yellow elephant

  29. Revisiting indefinites • Actually, a(n) can serve this function as well: • A tall elephant is hungry. • Here too, we seem to be talking about an individual. • In this case, there need not be a unique and salient one—what it seems to assert is that among the individuals with the property tall elephant, one can be found that (also) has the property is hungry.

  30. Three kinds of indefinites • In fact, there seem to be at least three kinds of indefinite noun phrase. • An elephant is hungry • …I can tell from the noise. (nonspecific) • …Guess which one (specific) • …and lives in hot climates (generic/kind) • And maybe a fourth, though this might be also simply a version of the first one. • Stampy is an elephant • We’ll get into this further at the same time as we talk about Every elephant.

  31. Modification by relative clauses • The elephant that I saw • [that I saw] acts here like an adjective. • It’s true of things that I saw, and combines intersectively with elephant. • Restrictive relative • The elephant, who is boring, is hungry. • Not quite the same thing as The boring elephant is hungry. It’s essentially expressing a second proposition: The elephant is boring. • Non-restrictive relative

  32. Relative clauses • The form of a relative clause is: • {that/which/who/Ø} S • Where S is “missing” something. • The dog (who/that) I saw _ • The dog which/that _ bit me • The interpretation is basically: The property of being able to be filled in the blank truthfully • x[x such that x bit me] • x[x such that I saw x] • More on how we can arrive at this compositionally later

  33.         