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EmilyBender edited this page Dec 19, 2015 · 8 revisions

ESD Test Suite Examples


The dog barked loudly.
The fierce dog barked.
The dog in the garden barked.
The barking dog arrived.
The dog bought by Abrams arrived.
The dog Abrams bought arrived.
The dog Abrams said barked arrived.
Abrams is an easy editor to impress.

Linguistic Characterization

The term ‘intersective modifiers’ here is used to include all non-scopal modifiers, i.e. those which combine with their modifiee in such a way that quantifiers cannot take scope in between. This is a very broad phenomenon, including both modifiers of EPs with instance-type ARG0s and of EPs with event-type ARG0s. Among nominal (instance-type) intersective modifiers, we find that the semantic category includes subtypes that are syntactically quite distinct, viz., relative clauses (which involve a long-distance dependency) on the one hand, and non-relative clause modifiers (adjectives, PPs, etc.) on the other.

The key property of intersective modification is the sharing of labels between the modifier and modifiee. This in turn means that the two EPs will necessarily occupy the same node in the scope tree, and differentiates intersective modification from other predicate-argument relations.

Motivating Examples

The shared scopal position is illustrated by the contrast between the following examples:

  • All white cats are deaf.
  • All deaf cats are white.

Though the ARG0 of _cat_n_1 is the ARG1 of both _deaf_a_1 and _white_a_1 in both of these examples, they do not mean the same thing. This, in turn, is because the modifier, but not the predicate, shares its label with _cat_n_1 and thus ends up in the same place in the scope tree (inside the restriction of the quantifier, as opposed to its body). A similar contrast can be built with relative clauses:

  • All cats that are white are deaf.
  • All cats that are deaf are white.

The shared scopal position between intersective modifiers and modified verbs can be observed with respect to quantifier scope. A modifier like loudly does not provide any additional slots for quantifiers to scope into, such that the following example is unambiguous:

  • Every dog barked loudly.

This contrasts with scopal modifiers, which do interact with quantifiers, giving two readings in cases such as:

  • Every dog probably barked.

ERS Fingerprints

h:[ARG0 e]
h:[ARG0 i]


As noted, this is a very broad category, which subsumes several other phenomena discussed in this documentation, including at least:

  • Apposition (pending reanalysis in terms of ICONS)

  • Compounding: ‘compound’, ‘compound_name’, including titles and N-ed (J-N_CRD-T_C cuts across compounding and coordination)

  • Implicit Locatives: (‘today’, ‘every time he arrives’): ‘loc_nonsp’

  • Instrumental Relatives: ‘with_p_rel’

  • Extraposed relative clauses (create page for these?)


Perhaps a better term for this category would be ‘non-scopal modifiers’, since we give the same treatment in MRS to intersective, subsective and private adjectives (Kamp & Partee 1993). At the level of MRS representations, we argue that it is appropriate to treat these equivalently, as they all share the property of disallowing intervening quantifiers.

There is a semantic distinction within intersective modifiers that cross-cuts the relative clause/other modifier distinction, namely, whether or not the head being modified plays a role in the predication sharing its label. For example in The dog Abrams bought barked, _buy_v_1 shares its label with _dog_n_1 and the ARG0 of _dog_n_1 is also the ARG2 of _buy_v_1. However, in The dog Kim told Abrams to buy barked, _dog_n_1, despite sharing its label with _tell_v_1 has no role to play in that predication. For non-relative clause modifiers of nouns, we find an analogous case with the so-called tough adjectives, as in Abrams is an easy editor to impress, where _easy_a_for shares a label with _editor_n_1 but does not take its ARG0 as an argument.

Note, too, that certain elements can be syntactic complements but semantic modifiers. This happens, for example, in the analysis of the following:

  • Kim behaved badly.

(At least, I thought it did, but that's not what I see in the demo. Other examples?)

Notes on Generation

Open Questions

  • Are there any cases where the modified element's ARG0 not only doesn't have a role in the top EP of the modifier but also doesn't have a role of any EP further down inside?

  • TODO: Look for grounding in the semantics literature around the notion of intersective modification, starting with Dowty, Wall & Peters 1981 [2012], also chapter on Quantification in the Encyclopedia of Linguistics, Barwise & Cooper 1981.

Expert External Commentary

Grammar Version



  • Kamp, H., & Partee, B. (1995). Prototype theory and compositionality. Cognition, 57(2), 129-191.

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