LINGUIST List 4.349

Thu 06 May 1993

Sum: Basic Level Categories

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  1. Elissa Feit, Basic Level Categories: Responses

Message 1: Basic Level Categories: Responses

Date: Mon, 3 May 93 12:27:20 EDT
From: Elissa Feit <feitcs.Buffalo.EDU>
Subject: Basic Level Categories: Responses
In response to Elissa Feit, Subj: Basic Level Categories:
John Taylor in _Linguistic Categorization_ (Clarendon Press:1989), a useful
summary of work in this area, notes on p. 47 that verbs are hard to handle
in this framework and implies that S. G. Pulman, _Word Meaning and Belief_
(Croom Helm, 1983) is a source for this observation and did try to deal
with verbal categories.
Ken Miner <>
Eve Sweetser at Berkeley has done work on this subject. Check her
book, From Etymology to Pragmatics (1991). If the topic isn't
addressed there fully enough for you, check her other articles listed
in the biblio. She deals with verbs of perception, and notes that
only basic level verbs will metaphorically extend to describe
cognition ("I see what you mean", never *"I stare what you mean").
Jeff Turley
There's a book by Steve Pulman which reports some
experiments on verbs to determine whether they behave
like nouns in this respect:
S.G. Pulman
Word Meaning and Belief
Croom Helm, London
Ann Copestake (
The only literature that I can think of is language acquisition papers that
argue for visual primitives that enable verb acquisition. Pustejovsky
"Constraints on the Acquisition of Semantic Knowledge" reviews some of that
literature (International Journal of Intelligent Systems, Vol 3, pp 247-268,
1988). It is however only suggestive of criteria for categorization and does
not present experimental data as Rosh's papers do.
Please let me know if you find anything! Maybe this one reference will even
help you.
Best wishes,
This is an excerpt from the latest newsletter of the Consortium for Lexical
Research. It describes George Miller's WordNet, which I think will come
pretty close to what you want.
Miller's email address is (Internet).
CLR's e-address is (Internet).
 Mark A. Mandel
 Dragon Systems, Inc. : speech recognition : +1 617 965-5200
 320 Nevada St. : Newton, Mass. 02160, USA
 ----------------- CUT HERE ----------------
WordNet was developed by George Miller at Princeton University. It is
an on-line lexical reference system for English, organized as a
semantic net, thus resembling a thesaurus. Nouns and verbs are
organized into sets of synonyms, each representing one underlying
lexical concept, and are logically grouped such that words in the same
synonym set are interchangeable in some contexts. On the other hand,
Antonymy, a lexical relation between word forms, is the central
organizing principle for the adjectives in WordNet. The design is
inspired by current psycholinguistic theories of human lexical memory.
WordNet has been recently updated. Now there is software available for
the Mac, Pc. Sun and HP. The system uses an X-interface for displaying
and examining WordNet data. All pertinent software is found in the
 Ftp Directory: pub/lexica/wordnet/
The current version includes the following files:
Doc File: wordnet.doc
Ftp File: 5papers.ASCII
(ASCII version of the 5 WordNet papers)
Ftp File: 5papers.tar.Z
(5 troff-format articles describing the WordNet project)
Ftp File: MacWordNet1.3.sit.bin
(Mac WordNet executables)
Ftp File: UnStuffit-Deluxe-TM.bin
(The UnStuffit Deluxe executable for unpacking the Mac version of WordNet)
Ftp File: readme.mac
(Instructions for installing WordNet 1.3 on a Mac)
Ftp File: readme.pc
(Instructions for installing WordNet 1.3 on a PC)
Ftp File: wn1.3.arc
(WordNet package for MSDOS in ARC format)
Ftp File: wn1.3.tar.Z
(WordNet package for Sun and HP)
Ftp File: wn1.3dict.tar.Z
(Dictionaries for WordNet 1.3)
Ftp File: wn1.3man.tar.Z
(Wordnet 1.3 manuals)
Ftp File: wn1.3src.tar.Z
(Source code for WordNet 1.3)
Samples from WordNet
The analysis of a word includes various subcategories: synonymy, antonymy,
familiarity, the relation of the noun to its superordinate and its hyponyms,
and the part-whole relation (meronym/holonym). These subcategories are
exemplified by the words "cheese", "produce", and "alert".
Noun Entry -- CHEESE
 => milk product, dairy product
 cheese(noun): uncommon (4)
Cheese is a kind of:
 => milk product, dairy product
 => food, nutrient
 => substance, material, matter
 => object
 => entity, thing
X is a kind of cheese:
=> cream cheese
=> cottage cheese, pot cheese
=> process cheese, processed cheese
=> American cheese
=> bleu, blue cheese
=> Brie, brie
=> brick cheese
=> Camembert
=> cheddar, cheddar cheese
=> Edam, edam
=> goat cheese
=> Gouda, gouda, Gouda cheese
=> grated cheese
=> Gruyere, gruyere
=> farm cheese, farmer cheese
=> hand cheese
=> mozzarella
=> Muenster
=> Parmisan
=> ricotta
=> string cheese
=> Velveeta
=> Emmental, Emmentaler, Swiss cheese
Parts of cheese:
 Part Meronyms
 => cheese rind, rind
Verb Entry - PRODUCE
grow, develop, produce, get, acquire
 => develop, produce, make
 => create, make, grow, raise, farm, produce
 => cultivate, foster the growth of produce, bring on, bring out
 produce(verb): common (6)
Particular ways to produce:
grow, develop, produce, get, acquire
 => feather, grow feathers
 => teeth, grow teeth
 => work up, get up
produce, make
 => bootleg
 => compose, compile
 => generate, produce electricity
 => render, yield, return, give, generate
 => bear, turn out
 => extrude, squeeze out
 => smelt, extract by heating
 => reproduce, make a copy of
 => duplicate, double, repeat, replicate
 => photocopy, xerox
 => play back
 => imitate, copy, simulate
 => model, pattern
 => print, make into a print
 => lithograph, make by lithography
 => silkscreen, print by silkscreen
 => stencil, mark with a stencil, print with a stencil
 => engrave, make an engraving of
 => etch, make an etching of
 => prefabricate, preassemble
 => fudge together, throw together
 => print, publish
Sample sentences using produce:
grow, develop, produce, get, acquire
 => Something ____s something
 => Somebody ____s something
produce, make
 => Something ____s something
 => Somebody ____s something
grow, raise, farm, produce
 => Somebody ____s something
produce, bring on, bring out
 => Somebody ____s somebody
 => Somebody ____s something
Adjective -- ALERT
 => alert to, aware, aware of
 => attentive, vigilant, watchful
 => heads-up, wide-awake
 => keen, perceptive, quick
alert, hawk-eyed, open-eyed, watchful, unsleeping, vigilant
 => attentive
alert, aware, conscious
 => awake
alert, careful, chary, wary
 => cautious
agile, alert, nimble, quick, quick-witted
 => smart
alert, hawk-eyed, open-eyed, watchful, unsleeping, vigilant
 (via: attentive) => inattentive
alert, aware, conscious
 (via: awake) => asleep
alert, careful, chary, wary
 (via: cautious) => incautious
agile, alert, nimble, quick, quick-witted
 (via: smart) => stupid
alert, awake, aware
 (via: conscious) => unconscious
alert, quick, quick-witted
 (via: intelligent) => unintelligent
 alert(adj): rare
I talked a bit about verbs and their categorial status
in a 1988 BLS article entitled "Unlikely Lexical Entries."
I was primarily concerned with which transitive verbs allowed
object omission and tried to tie it with the superordinate/
basic/subordinate status of the intended object. I would
imagine your best source on this matter is Len Talmy.
He's done the most extensive study of semantically determined
lexicalization/grammaticalization patterns.
Sally Rice
 Feit's query about basic-level status for action/events like
 EAT vis-a-vis superordinate INGEST and subordinate DINE, SUP,
 PIG OUT etc raises the parallel issue of basic-level states
 like SAD vs. superordinate NEGATIVE EMOTION and subordinate
 MELANCHOLY, DEPRESSED, DOWNCAST etc, which may dovetail with
 Lakoff's treatment of metaphors for emotions.
 Neal Norrick tb0nrn1niu.bitnet
I suggest that you look at some work done by R.M.W. Dixon on the
topic of categorisation of verbs (as distinct from Rosch's work on
nouns). The clearest statement of his approach is in a paper called
"A method of semantic description" published in the Steinberg and Jakobovits
reader "Semantics". He has also looked at verbs of 'giving' - see his book
"Where have all the adjectives gone" published by Mouton.
Dixon can be reached at Linguistics Department, Australian National University,
P.O. Box 4, Canberra. ACT 2601 Australia. I don't think he is on e-mail.
Peter Austin
Associate Professor
Linguistics Department
La Trobe University
Bundoora. Vic 3083
 From: Eleanor Olds Batchelder <>
 Subject: Basic-Level Verbs
An article last year in Computational Linguistics by James Pustejovsky
might interest you. Develops a compositional account that includes
nouns and verbs on equal footing.
Thank you for all your responses!
Elissa Feit ( // {rutgers,uunet}!!feit)
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