The Mathematics of Language pp 174-191
Event Semantics and Abstract Categorial Grammar
- Cite this paper as:
- Winter Y., Zwarts J. (2011) Event Semantics and Abstract Categorial Grammar. In: Kanazawa M., Kornai A., Kracht M., Seki H. (eds) The Mathematics of Language. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 6878. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg
Common versions of event semantics do not naturally explain the obligatory narrow scope of existential quantification over events, or the typically event-oriented modification by adverbials. We argue that these linguistic properties reflect a distinction between overt arguments and purely semantic slots like the event argument. The distinction is naturally captured in Abstract Categorial Grammar (ACG) [1,2,3,4], which manipulates pairs of forms and meanings, a.k.a. linguistic signs. The sign’s pheno-type defines syntactic arguments and the sign’s semantic type standardly defines semantic arguments. Both these concrete types are standardly derived by induction on the structure of one abstract type (category) of the sign, by assigning pheno-level and semantic types to basic abstract types. We assume that semantic event arguments are only introduced by the (basic) result type of the verb’s abstract type, whose pheno-level type is standardly a string. Consequently semantic event arguments lack a correlate in the verb’s pheno-type. Both narrow-scope existential quantification over events and the orientation of event modifiers follow rigorously from this assumption. Based on this architecture, we develop simple accounts of adverbial modification, nominalization and passive constructions in an ACG fragment.
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