Advertisement

Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 1–31 | Cite as

Adverbial quantification over events

  • Susan Rothstein
Article

Abstract

This paper gives an analysis of the adverbial quantifiers exemplified in “I regretted it every time I had dinner with him.” Sentences of this kind display what I call a ‘matching effect’; they are true if every event in the denotation oftime I had dinner with him can be matched with an event regretting that dinner event. They are thus truth-conditionally equivalent to sentences of the form “There are at least as many As as Bs.” The difficulties of giving a compositional interpretation to sentences of this form have been discussed in, e.g., Boolos 1981. I first show that the matching effect is semantic and not pragmatic. I then give an analysis of these sentences in a neo-Davidsonian framework, interpreting the adverbials as quantifiers over events. Syntactically they are analyzed as objects of a null preposition. This allows a simple compositional semantic interpretation in which the null preposition is interpreted exactly as other prepositions are by Davidson (1967), namely as denoting a function from the event argument of the matrix verb to the prepositional object. The matching effect then follows automatically. I extend the analysis to account for other sentences which directly instantiate the schema “For every A there is a B” and its equivalents, and show how the matching effect follows in general from the functional nature of thematic roles and prepositions.

Keywords

Semantic Interpretation Thematic Role Matching Effect Event Argument Functional Nature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Boolos, George: 1981, ‘For every A there is a B’,Linguistic Inquiry 12(3), 465–467.Google Scholar
  2. Bresnan, Joan: 1982, ‘Polyadicity’, in J. Bresnan (ed.),The Mental Representation of Grammatical Relations, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, pp. 149–172.Google Scholar
  3. Condoravdi, Cleo: 1992, ‘Individual-Level Predicates in Conditional Clauses’, paper presented at the LSA meeting, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  4. Davidson, Donald: 1967, ‘The Logical Form of Action Sentences’, reprinted in D. Davidson, 1980,Essays on Actions and Events, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 105–121.Google Scholar
  5. Dowty, David: 1978,Word Meaning and Montague Grammar, Kluwer, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  6. Heim, Irene: 1982,The Semantics of Definite and Indefinite Noun Phrases, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.Google Scholar
  7. Higginbotham, James: 1985, ‘On Semantics’,Linguistic Inquiry 16(4), 547–593.Google Scholar
  8. Hinrichs, Erhardt: 1986, ‘Temporal Anaphora in Discourses of English’,Linguistics and Philosophy 9, 63–82.Google Scholar
  9. de Hoop, Helen and Henriette de Swart: 1992, ‘Indefinite Objects’, in R. Bok-Bennema and P. Coopmans (eds.),Linguistics in the Netherlands, Foris, Dordrecht, pp. 91–100.Google Scholar
  10. Kamp, Hans: 1981, ‘A Theory of Truth and Semantic Representation’, in J. Groenendijk, T. Janssen and M. Stokhof (eds.),Proceedings of the Third Amsterdam Colloquium, Amsterdam Mathematical Centre, part 1, pp. 277–321. Reprinted in J. Groenendijk, T. Janssen and M. Stokhof (eds.), 1984,Truth, Interpretation and Information, GRASS 2, Foris, Dordrecht, pp. 1–41.Google Scholar
  11. Kratzer, Angelika: 1989, ‘Stage-level and Individual-level Predicates’, ms., University of Massachusetts, Amherst.Google Scholar
  12. Landman, Fred: 1993, ‘Events and Plurality’, ms., Tel Aviv University and Cornell University.Google Scholar
  13. Larson, Richard: 1985, ‘Bare-NP Adverbs’,Linguistic Inquiry 16(4), 595–621.Google Scholar
  14. Lewis, David: 1975, ‘Adverbs of Quantification’, in E. L. Keenan (ed.),Formal Semantics of Natural Language, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 3–15.Google Scholar
  15. Link, Godehard: 1987, ‘Algebraic Semantics of Event Structures’, in J. Groenendijk, M. Stokhof and F. Veltman (eds.),Proceedings of the Sixth Amsterdam Colloquium, ITLI, Amsterdam, pp. 243–262.Google Scholar
  16. McNally, Louise: 1992, ‘Adjunct Predicates and the Individual/Stage Distinction’, ms., Indiana University.Google Scholar
  17. Parsons, Terence: 1990,Events in the Semantics of English, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  18. Postal, Paul and Geoffrey Pullum: 1988, ‘Expletive Noun Phrases in Subcategorized Positions’,Linguistic Inquiry 19(4), 635–670.Google Scholar
  19. Stump, Gregory: 1985,The Semantic Variability of Absolute Constructions, Reidel, Dordrecht.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan Rothstein
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EnglishBar-Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

Personalised recommendations