A6 - Frame semantics for verbs

The goal of the project is the development of a frame semantics for verbs, building on a cross-linguistically motivated theory of lexical decomposition that forms part of the input to a theory of the syntax-semantics interface, Role and Reference Grammar (e.g. Van Valin 2005a). While this decompositional system has been used successfully to capture linguistically significant generalizations, it is not fine-grained enough to make possible the expression of further important generalizations. The new decompositional system developed in this project will be based on the expressive frame formalism of Barsalou (1992), using the formalized version proposed by Petersen (2007). Frames appear to be a suitable representational device for the conceptual modeling of verb semantics at the right level of granularity and with the right amount of flexibility. They permit a transparent modeling of all meaning components of a verb, as well as the interrelations between these components and the constraints on them. The linguistic analysis part of the project will focus on a limited but representative set of action, cognition and perception, and psychological verbs. The primary languages to be investigated are German, English, Tagalog, and Lakhota. The grammatical phenomena to be accounted for concern complementation patterns (in the broadest sense) in both simple sentences, i.e. the assignment of case and argument-marking prepositions, and in complex sentences, i.e. the selection of clausal and sub-clausal dependent units (complementation in the narrow sense). The results of the project will not only represent an advance in the representation of verb semantics, but will also be an important step forward in the development of Role and Reference Grammar.