Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 71–124

Sublexical Modality And The Structure Of Lexical Semantic Representations

  • Jean-Pierre Koenig
  • Anthony R Davis

DOI: 10.1023/A:1005616002948

Cite this article as:
Koenig, JP. & Davis, A.R. Linguistics and Philosophy (2001) 24: 71. doi:10.1023/A:1005616002948


This paper argues for a largely unnoted distinction between relational and modal components in the lexical semantics of verbs. Wehypothesize that many verbs encode two kinds of semantic information:a relationship among participants in a situation and a subset ofcircumstances or time indices at which this relationship isevaluated. The latter we term sublexical modality.

We show that linking regularities between semantic arguments andsyntactic functions provide corroborating evidence in favor of thissemantic distinction, noting cases in which the semantic groundingof linking through participant-role properties apparently fails. Thissemantic grounding can be preserved, however, once we abstractaway from sublexical modality in lexical semantic representations.Semantically-based linking constraints are insensitive to the sublexicalmodality component of lexical entries and depend only on informationin a predicator's “situational core”.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean-Pierre Koenig
    • 1
  • Anthony R Davis
    • 2
  1. 1.University at Buffalo, State University of New YorkUSA
  2. 2.AnswerLogic, IncUSA

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