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-41-
containingverbsinconjunctionwithnounsthatviolatedtheverbs’selectional
restrictions. Whenaskedtoparaphrasethesentences,subjectsassignednovel
interpretationstotheverbs,butdidnotmodifytheliteralmeaningsofthenouns.
GentnerandFranceconcludedthatverbmeaningsaremoreeasilyalteredbecausethey
arelesscohesivethanthoseofnouns—aflexibilitythatmakesasemanticanalyisof
verbsanevenmorechallengingtask.
Themostfrequentlyusedverbs(have,be,run,make,set,go,take,andothers)are
alsothemostpolysemous,andtheirmeaningsoftendependheavilyonthenounswith
whichtheyco-occur. Forexample,dictionariesdifferentiatebetweenthesensesofhave
insentenceslikeIhaveaMercedesandIhaveaheadache. Thedifferenceislessdueto
thepolysemyofhave,however,thantotheconcreteorabstractnatureofitsobjects.
Inthecaseofsuchpolysemousverbsasbeat,meaningdifferencesaredetermined
lessbythesemanticsoftheverb’sargumentsthanbydifferentelaborationsofoneortwo
commoncorecomponentssharedbymostsensesofbeat. Differentsensesofbeatoccur
inverydifferentsemanticdomains:{beat,strike,hit}isacontactverb;{beat,flatten}is
averbofchange;{beat,throb,pulse}isamotionverb;{beat,defeat}isacompetition
verb;{beat,flog,punish}and{beat,circumvent(thesystem)}areverbsinthedomainof
socialinteraction;{beat,shape,dometalwork}isacreationverb;{beat,baffle}isa
cognitionverb;{beat,stir,whisk}belongstothedomainofcookingverbs;and{beat,
mark}isakindofmotionperformedtoindicatethecountsinmusic. Althoughmostof
theseverbsseemtoshareasemanticcomponentof
CONTACT
or
IMPACT
,thedifferences
illustratehowflexiblethesecoremeaningscanbe.
InordertoreduceambiguityinWordNet,verbsynsetscouldcontaincross-
referencepointerstothenounsynsetsthatcontainnounsselectedforbytheverbs. For
example,onesenseoftheverbthrow(throwonawheel)alwaysselectsthenounpottery
oritshyponymsasitsobject;thatselectionalrestrictioncouldberepresentedbya
labeledpointer. Atthepresenttime,however,thispossibilityhasnotbeenimplemented
inWordNet.
TheOrganizationofVerbsinWordNet
Currently,WordNetcontainsover21,000verbwordforms(ofwhichover13,000
areuniquestrings)andapproximately8,400wordmeanings(synsets). Includedare
phrasalverbslikelookupandfallback.
Verbsaredividedinto15files,largelyonthebasisofsemanticcriteria. Allbutone
ofthesefilescorrespondtowhatlinguistshavecalledsemanticdomains:verbsofbodily
careandfunctions,change,cognition,communication,competition,consumption,
contact,creation,emotion,motion,perception,possession,socialinteraction,and
weatherverbs. Virtuallyalltheverbsinthesefilesdenoteeventsoractions. Anotherfile
containsverbsreferringtostates,suchassuffice,belong,andresemble,thatcouldnotbe
integratedintotheotherfiles. Theverbsinthislattergroupdonotconstituteasemantic
domain,andsharenosemanticpropertiesotherthanthattheyrefertostates. Thisfile,
whoseorganizationresemblesthatoftheadjectivesinWordNet,consistsofsmall
semanticclusters. Thedivisionofverbsinto14filescorrespondingtodifferentsemantic
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domains,eachcontainingeventandactionverbs,andonefilecontainingsemantically
diversestativeverbsreflectsthedivisionbetweenthemajorconceptualcategories
EVENT
and
STATE
foundinJackendoff’s(1983:170)andDowty’s(1979)analyses. The
boundariesbetweenthefilesarenotrigid,andtheparticularclassificationwaschosen
largelybecauseitpermitsustogetagraspontheorganizationoftheverbs;ithasno
furthertheoreticalorpsychologicalimplications.
Manyofthefilesderivetheirnamesfromthetopmostverbs,or‘‘unique
beginners,’’whichheadthesesemanticallycoherentlexicalgroups. Thesetopmostverbs
resemblethe‘‘corecomponents’’ofMillerandJohnson-Laird(1976). Theyarethe
unelaboratedconceptsfromwhichtheverbsconstitutingthesemanticfieldarederived
viasemanticrelations.
Synonymy
Fewtrulysynonymousverbs,suchasshutandclose,canbefoundinthelexicon—
thenumberdependsonhowlooseadefinitionofsynonymyoneadopts. Thebest
examplesareprobablyverbconceptsthatarerepresentedbybothanAnglo-Saxonanda
Greco-Latinateword:begin-commence,end-terminate,rise-ascend,blink-nictate,
behead-decapitate,spit-expectorate. Ingeneral,theGreco-Latinateverbsareusedin
moreformalortechnicalspeechregisters:buyvs.purchase,sweatvs.perspire,orshave
vs.epilate. Cruse(1986:268)pointsoutthatfrequentlyonlyonememberofsucha
synonympairtendstobefelicitousinagivencontext:WherehaveyouhiddenDad’s
slippers?soundsmorenaturalthanWherehaveyouconcealedDad’sslippers? And
subtlemeaningdifferencescanshowupindifferentselectionalrestrictions. For
example,riseandfallcanselectasanargumentsuchabstractentitiesasthetemperature,
buttheirclosesynonymsascendordescendcannot. Becausemanyapparently
synonymousverbsexhibitsuchdifferences,verbsynsetsinWordNetoftencontain
periphrasticexpressions,ratherthanlexicalizedsynonyms.
Theseperiphrasesbreakdownasynonymousverbintoanentireverbphraseand
therebyoftenreflectthewayinwhichtheverbhasbecomelexicalizedbyshowing
constituentsthathavebeenconflatedintheverb. Forexample,adenominalverbsuchas
hammerislistedwiththeparentheticalglosshitwithahammer;theconflatedverb
denotesthefunctionofthenoun. Theperiphrasesindicatethebasicactionandtherole
ofthenoun(materialandinstrument)withwhichtheactionisperformed. The
synonymousexpressionsofdeadjectivalverbsoftenhavetheformmakeorbecome+
someadjective:{whiten,becomewhite},{enrich,makerich},etc. Thustheyreflectthe
factthattheseverbsareforthemostpartverbsofchange. Thesynonymousexpressions
ofmanyverbsshowthattheyaremannerelaborationsofamorebasicverb:{swim,
travelthroughwater},{mumble,talkindistinctly},{saute,frybriefly},etc.
Representingthemeaningsofverbsisdifficultforanytheoryoflexicalsemantics,
butespeciallysoforWordNet,whichdiffersfrompreviousapproachesinavoidinga
semanticdecompositioninfavorofarelationalanalysis.
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Decompositionalvs.RelationalSemanticAnalysis
Mostapproachestoverbsemanticshavebeenattemptsatdecompositioninone
formoranother. Earlyproponentsofsemanticdecomposition(Katz&Fodor,1963;
Katz,1972;Gruber,1976;Lakoff,1970;Jackendoff,1972;Schank,1972;Millerand
Johnson-Laird,1976;andothers),whetherinagenerativeoraninterpretativeframework,
arguedfortheexistenceofafinitesetofuniversalsemantic-conceptualcomponents(or
primes,orprimitives,oratomicpredicates,or,inthecaseofnouns,markers)intowhich
alllexicalitemscouldbeexhaustivelydecomposed. Amongtheexamplesonefinds
discussedintheliterature,mosthavebeenEnglishverbs. Thebestknownexampleof
thedecompositionofaverbisprobablyMcCawley’s(1968)analysisofkillinto
CAUSE
TOBECOMENOTALIVE
,whichhasbeenmuchdiscussedandcriticized(Fodor,1970;
Shibatani,1972;andothers).
Althoughsemanticdecompositionhasbeenjudgedbysometobeaninadequate
theoryofsemanticrepresentation(Chomsky,1972,andothers),morerecentapproaches
havetakenasimilarpathtosemanticanalysis. BothJackendoff(1983)andTalmy
(1985)haveproposedananlysisofverbsintermsofsuchconceptualcategoriesas
EVENT,STATE,ACTION,PATH,MANNER,PLACE
,etc. Forexample,Talmyanalyzesthe
verbrollasbeingalexicalizedconflationof
MOVE
and
MANNER
. Bothanalysesshare
theassumptionofalimitedinventoryincludingcomponentsorcategoriesthatcanbe
expressednotonlybyverbs,butalsobynounsandbyoperatorslike
NEG
.
Relationalsemanticanalysisdiffersfromsemanticdecompositionprimarilyin
takinglexicalitems,ratherthanhypotheticallyirreduciblemeaningatoms,asthe
smallestunitofanalysis. Thus,relationalanalysishastheadvantagethatitsunitscanbe
thoughtofasentriesinspeakers’mentaldictionaries. However,therelationalanalysis
adoptedinWordNetsharessomeaspectsofdecomposition. AlthoughWordNetdoesnot
explicitlyrecognizeconceptualcomponents,somecomponentsarereflectedinthenature
ofthesemanticrelationslinkingverbstoeachother. Forexample,oneofgenerative
semantics’importantsubpredicates,
CAUSE
,hasthestatusofasemanticrelationin
WordNet—arelationthatlinkssuchverbpairsasteach-learnandshow-see. This
relationalsodistinguishessystematicallybetweenthecausative(transitive)andthe
anticausative(intransitive)sensesofcertainverbclasses,includingbreak,rotandmove.
Componentslike
NEG
and
PATH
donotplayanovertroleinWordNet. But
NEG
is
clearlyimplicitintheoppositionrelationthatholdsbetweencontradictoryverbslikelive
anddie,orsucceedandfail,andbetweengradableslikelikeanddislike. Andasemantic
PATH
componentisclearlypartofthemannerrelationthatlinksverbconceptslike
{move,travel}andsoar. Otherfeatures,suchasTalmy’s
MANNER
,arealsopartofthe
semanticsofWordNet’smannerrelation(troponymy)linkingbasicverbslikeeatand
communicatetootherverbsdenotingparticularelaborationsofthebaseverb,suchas
gobbleandtelex.
Proponentsofsemanticdecompositionhavealsoarguedfortheexistenceof
subpredicates,correspondingtoabstractverbalconcepts,inmanylexicalizedverbs.
Someabstractsemanticpredicatessuchas
MOVE
or
GO
arearguedtobethebasic
componentsofmostverbsfromawidevarietyofdifferentsemanticfields(Gruber,1976;
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Jackendoff,1972,1976). Gruber’sLocationHypothesisarguesthatalleventsandstates
canbeanalyzedasmoreorlessabstractspatiallocationsandmotions. Similarly,Dowty
(1979)analyzesallEnglishverbswiththeexceptionofstativesasverbsofchange,and
positsaspartoftheirmeaningthesemanticsubpredicate
CHANGE
. Thus,Gruber
analyzesverbsofgivingasanabstractmotionundergonebytheobjectthatisgiven;
Dowtyseesgivingasachangeofpossession. Suchdecompositionsofverbsemantics
aredefensibleonanabstractplane,butitisnotclearthattheyreflectthewayinwhich
people’smemoryofverbsisstructured;thereisnoevidencethatspeakersstoreverbsof
givingtogetherwiththeconceptof(abstract)motionorchangeoflocation. Pinker
(1989:101)claimsthatspeakersofEnglishdecomposeverbsintosuchsemantic
subpredicatesas
CAUSE
,
GO
,
BE
,and
PATH
,whichenablesthemtopredicttheverbs’
idiosyncraticsyntacticbehavior. Suchananalysismaywellbepartofspeakers’
linguisticcompetence,butthereisnoindicationthatitservestoorganizethemental
lexicon. Andthereisnoevidencethatverbswithacomplexcompositiontakelongerto
useorunderstand.
Thesubpredicatesoflexicaldecompositionareaccordedthesamestatusasother
verbsinWordNet.Becauseverbslike{move,go}andchangerefertoverybasic
concepts,theyconstitutetherootverbs,ortopmost‘‘uniquebeginners,’’headingtwo
semanticfield. Theverbsmakingupthesefieldsarelinkedtotherootverbsviasemantic
relations. Inotherwords,WordNetcharacterizestheverbsofchangenotbythepresence
ofasemanticcomponent
CHANGE
,butratherbyasemanticrelationtotheverbchange.
Thisdistinctionmayappearsubtle;ithingesontheformulationofthesemanticrelations
thatarecodedinWordNet.
Componentialanalysiscouldbeviewedintermsofentailment,inthataverbV
1
that
isacomponentofanotherverbV
2
mustbeentailedbyV
1
. Thisideaformsthebasisof
Carnap’s(1947)theoryofmeaningpostulates. Ratherthanattemptingtoprovidean
exhaustivebreakdownofwordsintocomponents,meaningpostulatesstateinferential
rulesbetweensentencesbasedonthesemanticcompositionofthewordsinthese
sentences. Awell-knownexampleistherelationbetweenthesentenceJohnisa
bachelorandthesentencesJohnisamale/Johnisanadult/Johnisunmarried. These
entailmentrelationsreflectthefactthatthelexicalcompositionofbachelorincludesthe
components
MALE,ADULT
,and
UNMARRIED
. Themeaningofbachelorcanbeexpressed
intermsofitspositioninataxonomichierarchy,thatis,abachelorisakindofaman,
whichisakindofapersonBachelor,therefore,couldbesaidtoinheritallthesemantic
componentsofitssuperordinates,suchas
HUMAN
. Consequently,thesentenceJohnisa
bacheloralsoentailsthesentenceJohnishuman. (Katz,1972,expressesasimilaridea
bypostulatinglexicalredundancyrulesconcerningtheco-occurrenceofsemantic
components.) Carnap’smeaningpostulatesalsopredictanentailmentrelationbetween
suchverbsaskillanddie. Theentailmentherereflectsthefactthatdieandkill,whichis
decomposedinto
CAUSETODIE
,sharethesemanticcomponent
DIE
.
AlthoughWordNetavoidssemanticdecompositioninfavorofarelationalanalysis,
thesemanticrelationsamongverbsinWordNetallinteractwithentailment.
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LexicalEntailment
Theprincipleoflexicalinheritancecanbesaidtounderliethesemanticrelations
betweennouns,andbipolaroppositionsservetoorganizetheadjectives. Similarly,the
differentrelationsthatorganizetheverbscanbecastintermsofoneoverarching
principle,lexicalentailment.
Inlogic,entailment,orstrictimplication,isproperlydefinedforpropositions;a
propositionPentailsapropositionQifandonlyifthereisnoconceivablestateofaffairs
thatcouldmakePtrueandQfalse. Entailmentisasemanticrelationbecauseitinvolves
referencetothestatesofaffairsthatPandQrepresent. Thetermwillbegeneralized
heretorefertotherelationbetweentwoverbsV
1
andV
2
thatholdswhenthesentence
SomeoneV
1
logicallyentailsthesentenceSomeoneV
2
;thisuseofentailmentcanbe
calledlexicalentailment. Thus,forexample,snorelexicallyentailssleepbecausethe
sentenceHeissnoringentailsHeissleeping;thesecondsentencenecessarilyholdsifthe
thefirstonedoes.
Lexicalentailmentisaunilateralrelation:ifaverbV
1
entailsanotherverbV
2
,then
itcannotbethatcasethatV
2
entailsV
1
. Theexceptionisthatwheretwoverbscanbe
saidtobemutuallyentailing,theymustalsobesynonyms,thatis,theymusthavethe
samesense.Forexample,onemightsayboththatTheGermansbeattheArgentinians
entailsTheGermansdefeatedtheArgentinians,andthatTheGermansdefeatedthe
ArgentiniansentailsTheGermansbeattheArgentinians. However,wefindsuch
statementsratherunnatural.Negationreversesthedirectionofentailment:notsleeping
entailsnotsnoring,butnotsnoringdoesnotentailnotsleeping. Theconverseof
entailmentiscontradiction:IfthesentenceHeissnoringentailsHeissleeping,thenHe
issnoringalsocontradictsthesentenceHeisnotsleeping(Kempson,1977).
Theentailmentrelationbetweenverbsresemblesmeronymybetweennouns,but
meronymyisbettersuitedtonounsthantoverbs. Tobeginwith,inorderforsentences
basedontheformulaAnxisapartofaytobeacceptable,bothxandymustbenouns.
Itmightseemthatusingthenominalizinggerundiveformoftheverbswouldconvert
themintonouns,andasnounsthe
HASA
relationshouldapply. Forexample,Ripsand
Conrad(1989)obtainedconsistentresultswhentheyaskedsubjectstojudgequestions
likeIsthinkingapartofplanning?vs.Isplanningapartofthinking? Butthischangein
syntacticcategorydoesnotovercomefundamentalmeaningdifferencesbetweennouns
andverbs. FellbaumandMiller(1990)arguethat,first,verbscannotbetakenapartin
thesamewayasnouns,becausethepartsofverbsarenotanalogoustothepartsof
nouns. Mostnounsandnounpartshavedistinct,delimitedreferents. Thereferentsof
verbs,ontheotherhand,donothavethekindofdistinctpartsthatcharacterizeobjects,
groups,orsubstances. Componentialanalyseshaveshownthatverbscannotbebroken
upintoreferentsdenotedsolelybyverbs. And,second,therelationsamongpartsof
verbsdifferfromthosefoundamongnounparts. Anyacceptablestatementaboutpart-
relationsamongverbsalwaysinvolvesthetemporalrelationbetweentheactivitiesthat
thetwoverbsdenote. Oneactivityoreventispartofanotheractivityoreventonlywhen
itispartof,orastagein,itstemporalrealization.
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Itistruethatsomeactivitiescanbebrokendownintosequentiallyordered
subactivities. Forthemostpart,thesearecomplexactivitiesthataresaidtobementally
representedasscripts(SchankandAbelson,1977). Theytendnottobelexicalizedin
English:eatatarestaurant,cleananengine,getamedicalcheck-up,etc. Theanalysis
intolexicalizedsub-activitiesthatispossiblefortheseverbphrasesis,however,not
availableforthemajorityofsimpleverbsinEnglish. Yetpeoplewillalsoacceptpart-
wholestatementsinvolvingverbpairslikedrive-rideandsnore-sleep. Thereasonliesin
thekindsofentailmentthatholdbetweentheverbs.
Considertherelationbetweentheverbsrideanddrive. Althoughneitheractivityis
adiscretepartoftheother,thetwoareconnectedinthatwhenyoudriveavehicle,you
necessarilyalsorideinit. Therelationbetweenthetwoactivitiesdenotedbytheseverbs
isdifferentfromthatholdingbetweenanactivitylikegetamedicalcheck-upandits
temporallysequentialsub-activities,likevisit(thedoctor)andundressRidingand
drivingarecarriedonsimultaneously. YetmostpeopleacceptRidingisapartofdriving
andrejectDrivingisapartofriding,eventhoughneitheractivitycanbeconsidereda
subactivityoftheother.
Consideralsotherelationsamongtheactivitiesdenotedbytheverbssnore,dream,
andsleep. Snoringordreamingcanbeapartofsleeping,inthesensethatthetwo
activitiesare,atleastpartially,temporallyco-extensive:thetimethatyouspendsnoring
ordreamingisaproperpartofthetimeyouspendsleeping. Anditistruethatwhenyou
stopsleepingyoualsonecessarilystopsnoringordreaming.
Thedifferencesbetweenpairslikedriveandrideandsnoreandsleepareduetothe
temporalrelationsbetweenthemembersofeachpair. Theactivitiescanbesimultaneous
(aswithdriveandride)oronecanincludetheother(aswithsnoreandsleep). Forboth
pairs,engaginginoneactivitynecessitatesengagingintheotheractivity. Therefore,the
firstactivityineachpairentailsthesecond.
Thetwosemanticrelationssubsumedunderlexicalentailmentthatwehave
consideredsofarsharethefeatureoftemporalinclusion.Thatistosay,thesetsofverbs
relatedbyentailmenthaveincommonthatonemembertemporallyincludestheother. A
verbV
1
willbesaidtoincludeaverbV
2
ifthereissomestretchoftimeduringwhichthe
activitiesdenotedbythetwoverbsco-occur,butnotimeduringwhichV
2
occursandV
1
doesnot. IfthereisatimeduringwhichV
1
occursbutV
2
doesnot,V
1
willbesaidto
properlyincludeV
2
.
Temporalinclusionmaygoineitherdirection. Verbpairslikebuyandpaydiffer
fromthoselikesnoreandsleepinthatwhereassnoreentailssleepandisproperly
includedbyit,buyentailspaybutproperlyincludesit. Thatistosay,eithertheentailing
ortheentailedverbmayproperlyincludetheother. Inthecaseofsnore-sleep,itisthe
entailedverbsleepthatproperlyincludestheentailingverbsnore,whereasinthepair
buy-pay,theentailingverbbuyproperlyincludestheentailedverbpay.
Ouranalysissofaryieldsasimplegeneralization:ifV
1
entailsV
2
,andifatemporal
inclusionrelationholdsbetweenthem,thenpeoplewillacceptapart-wholestatement
relatingV
2
andV
1
.
-47-
HyponymyAmongVerbs
Thesentenceframeusedtotesthyponymybetweennouns,Anxisay,isnot
suitableforverbs,becauseitrequiresthatxandybenouns:toambleisakindoftowalk
isnotafelicitoussentence. Evenwhenthisformulaisusedwithverbsinthegerundive
form,thereisanoticeabledifferencebetweennounsandverbs. Althoughpeopleare
quitecomfortablewithstatementslikeAhorseisananimalorAspadeisagardentool,
theyarelikelytorejectsuchstatementsasAmblingiswalkingorMumblingistalking,
wherethesuperordinateisnotaccompaniedbysomequalification. Thesemantic
distinctionbetweentwoverbsisdifferentfromthefeaturesthatdistinguishtwonounsin
ahyponymicrelation.
Anexaminationof‘verbhyponyms’andtheirsuperordinatesshowsthat
lexicalizationinvolvesmanykindsofsemanticelaborationsacrossdifferentsemantic
fields. Forexample,Talmy’s(1985)analysisofmotionverbstreatsthemasconflations
ofmoveandsuchsemanticcomponentsas
MANNER
and
CAUSE
,exemplifiedbyslideand
pull,respectively. Tothesecomponentscouldbeadded
SPEED
(encodedinrun,stroll)or
the
CONVEYANCE
ofdisplacement(bus,truck,bike). Similarly,Englishverbsdenoting
differentkindsofhittingexpressthe
DEGREEOFFORCE
usedbytheagent(chop,slam,
whack,swat,rap,tap,peck,etc.). Someverbsrefertodifferentdegreesof
INTENSITY
of
theactionorstate(drowse,doze,sleep).
Sincetheaimistostudyrelationsbetweenverbs,ratherthanbetweenthebuilding
blocksthatmakethemup,themanydifferentkindsofelaborationsthatdistinguisha
‘verbhyponym’fromitssuperordinatehavebeenmergedintoamannerrelationthat
FellbaumandMiller(1990)havedubbedtroponymy(fromtheGreektropos,manneror
fashion). ThetroponymyrelationbetweentwoverbscanbeexpressedbytheformulaTo
V
1
istoV
2
insomeparticularmanner. ‘Manner’isinterpretedheremorelooselythanin
Talmy’swork,forexample,andtroponymscanberelatedtotheirsuperordinatesalong
manysemanticdimensions. Subsetsofparticularkindsofmannerstendtoclusterwithin
agivensemanticfield. Amongcompetitionverbs,forexample,manytroponymsare
conflationsofthebasicverbfightwithnounsdenotingtheoccasionfor,orformof,the
fight:battle,war,tourney,joust,duel,feud,etc. Troponymsofcommunicationverbs
oftenencodethespeaker’s
INTENTION
ormotivationforcommunicating,asinexamine,
confess,orpreach,orthe
MEDIUM
ofcommunication:fax,e-mail,phone,telex.
TroponymyandEntailment
Troponymyisaparticularkindofentailment,inthateverytroponymV
1
ofamore
generalverbV
2
alsoentailsV
2
. Considerthepairlimp-walk. Theverbsinthispairare
relatedbytroponymy:tolimpisalsotowalkinacertainmanner;limpisatroponymof
walk.Theverbsarealsoinanentailmentrelation:thestatementHeislimpingentailsHe
iswalking,andwalkingcanbesaidtobeapartoflimping. Unliketheactivititesdenoted
bysnoreandsleep,orbuyandpay,theactivitiesreferredtobyatroponymanditsmore
generalsuperordinatearealwaystemporallyco-extensive,inthatonemustnecessarilybe
walkingeveryinstantthatoneislimping. Troponymythereforerepresentsaspecialcase
ofentailment:pairsthatarealwaystemporallyco-extensiveandarerelatedby
entailment.
-48-
Incontrastwithpairslikelimp-walk,averblikesnoreentailsandisincludedin
sleep,butisnotatroponymofsleep;getamedicalcheck-upentailsandincludesvisitthe
doctor,butisnotatroponymofvisitthedoctor;andbuyentailspay,butisnota
troponymofpay. Theverbsinthesepairsarerelatedonlybyentailmentandproper
temporalinclusion. Theimportantgeneralizationhereisthatverbsrelatedbyentailment
andpropertemporalinclusioncannotberelatedbytroponymy. Fortwoverbstobe
relatedbytroponymy,theactivitiestheydenotemustbetemporallyco-extensive. One
cansleepbeforeoraftersnoring,buyingincludesactivitiesotherthanpaying,and
visitingthedoctorisnottemporallyco-extensivewithgettingamedicalcheck-up,so
noneofthesepairsarerelatedbytroponymy.
Thetwocategoriesoflexicalentailmentthathavebeendistinguishedsofarare
relateddiagrammaticallyinFigure1.
Entailment
+Troponymy
(Co-extensiveness)
-Troponymy
(ProperInclusion)
limp-walk
lisp-talk
snore-sleep
buy-pay
Figure1. Twokindsofentailmentwithtemporalinclusion
VerbTaxonomies
Intryingtoconstructverbtaxonomiesusingthetroponymyrelation,itbecame
apparentthatverbscannoteasilybearrangedintothekindoftreestructuresontowhich
nounsaremapped. First,withinasinglesemanticfielditisfrequentlythecasethatnot
allverbscanbegroupedunderasingleuniquebeginner;somesemanticfieldsmustbe
representedbyseveralindependenttrees. Motionverbs,forexample,havetwotop
nodes,{move,makeamovement},and{move,travel}. Verbsofpossessioncanbetraced
uptothethreeverbs{give,transfer},{take,receive},and{have,hold};forthemost
part,theirtroponymsencodewaysinwhichsocietyhasritualizedthetransferof
possessions:bequeath,donate,inherit,usurp,own,stock,etc. Thesemanticfield
containingverbsofbodilycareandfunctionsconsistsofanumberofindependent
hierarchiesthatformacoherentsemanticfieldbyvirtueofthefactthatmostoftheverbs
(wash,comb,shampoo,makeup;ache,atrophy)selectforthesamekindsofnoun
arguments(bodyparts). Thecommunicationverbsareheadedbytheverbcommunicate
butimmediatelydivideintoverbsofverbalandnon-verbal(gestural)communication;
theformerdividefurtherintoactionsdenotingthecommunicationofspokenvs.written
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language.
Verbhierarchiestendtohaveamoreshallow,bushystructurethannouns;infew
casesdoesthenumberofhierarchicallevelsexceedfour. Moreover,virtuallyeveryverb
taxonomyshowswhatmightbecalledabulge,thatistosay,alevelfarmorerichly
lexicalizedthantheotherlevelsinthesamehierarchy. CallthislayerL0,thelayerabove
itL+1,andthelayerbelowL-1. CertainparallelscanbedrawnbetweenL0andwhathas
beencalledthebasiclevelinnounhierarchies(Roschetal.,1976). Notonlydomostof
theverbsinahierarchyclusteratL0,butthetroponymyrelationbetweentheseverbsand
theirsuperordinateissemanticallyricherthanbetweenverbsonotherlevels. Consider,
forexample,thetaxonomyarisingfromtheL+1verbwalk:thesuperordinateofwalk,on
levelL+2,is{move,travel};troponymsofwalk,onlevelL0,aremarch,strut,traipse,
amble,mosey,slouch,etc. AlthoughastatementrelatingL+1toL+2Towalkisto
moveinsomemanner—isperfectlyacceptable,statementsrelatingL0toL+1To
march/strut/traipse/amble...istowalkinsomemanner—seemmorefelicitous;these
verbselaboratetheconceptofwalkingindistinctways,yetthefeaturesofwalkingare
stillclearlypresent. Walk,ontheotherhand,seemssemanticallymoreremotefromits
superordinate,move.
Analternativewaytothinkaboutverbtaxonomies—onethatreflectsthe
prominenceofthetwolevels,L+1andL0—isintermsofaradialstructure,orcluster,
withunelaboratedL+1verbslikewalk,talk,hit,andfightinthecenterandtheir
troponymsmarch,strut;lisp,babble;tap,slam;battle,joust,etc.,clusteredaroundthem.
Inmosthierarchies,L-1,thelevelbelowthemostrichlylexicalizedone,hasfew
members. Forthemostpart,theytendnottobeindependentlylexicalized,butare
compoundedfromtheirsuperordinateverbandanounornounphrase. Examplesare
goose-step,atroponymofmarchfromthewalkhierarchy;andspoonfeed,forcefeed,
bottle-feed,breastfeed,troponymsof{feed,causetoeat}fromtheingesthierarchy
amongtheconsumptionverbs.
Asonedescendsinaverbhierarchy,thevarietyofnounsthattheverbsonagiven
levelcantakeaspotentialargumentsdecreases. Thisseemstobeafunctionofthe
increasingelaborationandmeaningspecificityoftheverb. Thus,walkcantakeasubject
referringeithertoapersonorananimal;mosttroponymsofwalk,however,arerestricted
tohumansubjects. Andgoose-steppingisusually,thoughnotnecessarily,doneby
soldiers;thisverbrarelytakeschildrenoroldpeopleasarguments. Ontheotherhand,
{move,travel}cantakenotonlypersonandanimalsubjects,butalsovehicles,orobjects
movedbyexternalforces. Similarly,figuresorpicturescancommunicateandtalk;they
canevendeceiveorlie,buttheycannotfiborperjurethemselves,asonlyhuman
speakerscan. Apieceofnewsmayhit,touchorevengrabyou,butitcannotpunch,
strokeorcollaryou;onlypeoplecanbeagentsoftheseverbs.
OppositionRelationsbetweenVerbs
Thereisevidencethatoppositionrelationsarepsychologicallysalientnotonlyfor
adjectives,butalsoforverbs. Forexample,inthecourseofteachingforeignlanguages
theauthorhasexperiencedthatstudents,whengivenonlyonememberofanantonymous
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oropposedverbpair,willinsistonbeingtoldtheothermember;theybelievethatitis
easiertolearnsemanticallyopposedwordstogether. FellbaumandChaffin(1990),inan
analogytaskinvolvingdifferentsemanticrelationsbetweenverbs,askedsubjectsto
generateverbswhoserelationtothestimulusmatchedthatofagivenpair;theyfound
thatsubjectsweremostsuccessfulincompletinganalogiesthatinvolvedanopposition
relation. Moreover,analogiesbasedonoppositionrelationstooktheleasttimeto
complete. Inbuildingthedatabaseforverbs,itwasfoundthataftersynonymyand
troponymy,oppositionisthemostfrequentlycodedsemanticrelation.
Thesemanticsofoppositionrelationsamongverbsiscomplex. Asinthecaseof
adjectives,muchoftheoppositionamongverbsisbasedonthemorphological
markednessofonememberofanopposedpair,asinthepairstie/untieand
appear/disappear/fR.
Likethesemanticallysimilaradjectivepairsweighty/weightlessandheavy/light,
therearepairslikefall/riseandascend/descendthatseemidenticalinmeaning,yetare
distinguishedbythewaytheirmemberspickouttheirdirectantonyms:rise/descendand
ascend/fallareconceptuallyopposed,butarenotdirectantonyms.
Manydeadjectivalverbsformedwithasuffixsuchas-enor-ifyinheritopposition
relationsfromtheirrootadjectives:lengthen/shorten,strengthen/weaken,prettify/uglify,
forexample. Theseare,forthemostpart,verbsofchangeandwoulddecomposeinto
BECOME
+adjectiveor
MAKE
+adjective. Asinthecaseofthecorresponding
adjectives,thesearedirectantonyms. Synonymsoftheseverbs,whentheyexist,are
generallyofLatinorGreekoriginandtendtobemoreconstrainedintherangeoftheir
potentialarguments,thatistosay,theyareusuallyreservedformorespecializeduses.
Thus,fortifyisasynonymofstrengthen,butitsoppositionrelationtoweakenis
conceptual:fortify/weakenareindirectantonyms. Inshort,deadjectivalverbscanbe
representedbythesameconfigurationthatGrossandMiller(thisvolume)describefor
adjectives.
Asinthecaseofadjectives,avarietyofnegativemorphologicalmarkersattachto
verbstoformtheirrespectiveopposingmembers. Examplesaretie/untie,
approve/disapprove,andbone/debone. Thesemanticsofthesemorphological
oppositionsisnotsimplenegation. Tountieisakindofundoing,andthesenseofthis
verbisoneofreversinganaction;itdoesnotmeantonottie. Apairofverbslike
approve/disapprovearegradables:thetwolexicalizedtermsarepointsonascale(of
approval,inthiscase). Gradableverbs,likegradableadjectives,canbemodifiedby
degreeadverbs,suchasquite,rather,etc. Perhapsthemoststrikingexampleillustrating
thatnegativemorphologyisnotsimplenegationisseeninsuchpairsasbone/debone
where,despitethelexicaloppositioninducedbythepresenceofanegativeprefix,there
isnosemanticoppositionatall—bothverbsrefertothesameactivityofremovingthe
bonesofananimal(Horn,1989). Insomepairs,themarkedmembercannotbeinferred
simplyfromthemorphologicalmarkerbecausetheoppositionderivesfromtheprefixes
themselves:emigrate/immigrate,exhale/inhale,predate/postdate.
Otherpairswhosemembersseemtobedirectantonymsarerise/fallandwalk/run.
Membersofthesepairsareassociatedwitheachotherratherthanwithverbsthatare
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