Arguments and Adjuncts at the Syntax-Semantics Interface (2010)

Roland Schäfer (2010) Arguments and Adjuncts at the Syntax-Semantics Interface. Dissertation. Georg-August-Universität Göttingen. [BibTeX]

Department of English, Georg-August University Göttingen

Supervisors: Gert Webelhuth, Regine Eckardt

Trale proof-of-concept implementation for Schäfer, Roland (2010) Arguments and Adjuncts at the Syntax-Semantics Interface.

In this dissertation, a syntax-semantics interface for Neo-Davidsonian Event Semantics is developed, which provides a compositional mechanism free of variables and lambda abstraction and based purely on function composition. Furthermore, besides recursively defined functional types, only a single basic type (the type of objects) is assumed. The presented syntax-semantics interface has the advantage of allowing arguments and adjuncts to apply at any stage without any type adaptations or cumbersome lambda constructs. This is achieved by detaching Neo-Davidsonian role encodings from the semantic representation of the verb, resulting in the verb denoting just a set of events. Semantically, both subcategorized arguments of a verb and adjuncts are then treated as exactly the same kind of operator on verb meanings. They have the same type, and they have parallel model-theoretic interpretations: They produce appropriate sets of events from input sets of events. The main part of the dissertation is devoted to showing that such operators are definable for quantified noun phrases. Additionally, negation, alternative meaning, and effects of cumulativity and distributivity are also discussed. An additional chapter is devoted to showing that the basic compositional mechanism can be implemented in a formalized theory of syntax, viz. Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG). The implementation in HPSG shows that the developed semantics framework, although complex in its definition, can lead to highly elegant derivations.