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Review of  Modifying Adjuncts

Reviewer: Martin Schäfer
Book Title: Modifying Adjuncts
Book Author: Ewald Lang Claudia Maienborn Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen
Publisher: De Gruyter Mouton
Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics
Issue Number: 14.3374

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Date: Sun, 7 Dec 2003 18:17:58 +0100 (MET)
From: Martin Schaefer
Subject: Lang, Maienborn & Fabricius-Hansen, Modifying Adjuncts

Lang, Ewald, Claudia Maienborn and Cathrine Fabricius-Hansen, ed. (2003)
Modifying Adjuncts, Mouton de Gruyter, Interface Explorations 4.

Martin Schaefer, Institute of Linguistics, University of Leipzig

The book presents a collection of papers originating from the Oslo
Conference "Approaching the Grammar of Adjuncts" in 1999. After an
introduction by the editors, the contributions are grouped into 4
sections: the argument-adjunct distinction, adjunct placement, case
studies on wieder/again and flexibility of event-related modification.

The section on the argument-adjunct distinction begins with David
Dowty's paper "The dual analysis of adjuncts/complements in Categorial
Grammar", pp. 33-66. Dowty argues that any complete grammar should
provide a dual analysis for complements as adjuncts. Only this, he
claims, can account for the fact that most complements have same-
category adjunct doubles. For him, the parallel analysis as adjunct and
complement allows one "to formalize [] the two endpoints of a complex
psycholinguistic "continuum", a psychological phenomenon where we are
not ready to try to formalize the intermediate points."(p. 60)

In "Genitives, relational nouns, and argument-modifier ambiguity", pp.
67-112, Barbara H. Partee and Vladimir Borschev discuss in detail the
possibility of providing a unified analysis of genitives for on the one
hand those genitives which are often argued to behave like arguments,
e.g. "John's father", on the other hand those genitives that have
modifier-like qualities, e.g. "John's movie". After a very careful
discussion of the data, which includes mainly English and Russian
examples, the authors finally reject a uniform analysis on the basis of
ellipsis data.

Manfred Bierwisch's "Heads, complements, adjuncts: Projection and
saturation", pp. 113-159, argues that the distinction between
complements and adjuncts is an essential property of grammar. According
to him, adjuncts discharge while complements receive a Theta-Role
provided by an argument position.

The second section on adjunct placement begins with "Syntactic
conditions on adjunct classes", pp. 163-209 by Werner Frey. Frey argues
that there is a distinction between five classes of adjuncts in German
and English, all of which are assigned base positions with distinct
structural requirements. The author also argues that adjuncts can
undergo scrambling in the middle field of German clauses. Frey devotes
a one page footnote to a defense of his base position for manner
adjuncts against the analysis proposed by Eckardt in this volume.

Benjamin Shaer's "'Manner' adverbs and the association theory: Some
problems and solutions", pp. 211-259, discusses whether or not the
reading of an adverb correlates with its syntactic position. According
to him, this correlation does indeed exist, though it cannot be
extended rightaway to fronted, parenthetical and afterthought
appearances of manner adverbs.

"Manner adverbs and information structure: Evidence from the adverbial
modification of verbs of creation", pp. 261-305 by Regine Eckardt
investigates phenomena concerning transitive verbs in combination with
indefinite direct objects and manner adverbs. In particular, she argues
that the two available orders, manner adverb- direct object vs direct
object- manner adverb, are consequences of different information
structures assigned to the respective sentences. A reflex of this are a
limited number of readings for the indefinite object in its pre-adverb
position. Eckardt argues directly against some points in Frey's paper,
especially concerning syntactic base positions.

Thomas Ernst's "Semantic features and the distribution of adverbs", pp.
307-334 argues that an adverb that carries the lexicosemantic property
of being subjective, defined here as being a) gradable and b) whose
mapping to a scale is influenced by the speaker's contextually
dependent judgement, cannot adjoin to the right in head-initial
languages, at least not in non-manner readings.

"Clause-final left-adjunction", pp 335-362 by Inger Rosengren
investigates the syntactic behaviour of circumstantials, e.g. cause,
time and place modifiers, in German, English and Swedish. According to
her, the verbal head parameter is responsible for the reverse ordering
of these modifiers in German as opposed to Swedish and English.

The articles in the third section are all case studies of the
ambiguities surrounding wieder/again. "Process, eventuality, and
wieder/again", pp.365-391 by Karin Pittner argues for a syntactic
explanation of the ambiguity of wieder/again. In particular, Pittner
argues that "wieder" in its restitutive reading minimally c-commands
the verb in clause-final base position; in its repetitive reading it
minimally c-commands the base positions of all arguments. Pittner
believes that the meaning of "wieder" can in essence be reduced to its
repetitive meaning, the two readings being epiphenomena of which entity
"wieder" is applied to, either the whole eventuality (=repetitive
reading) or part of it (=restitutive reading). Pittner incorporates
into her discussion the data and arguments given in the two next

"Competition and interpretation: The German adverb wieder ('again')",
pp. 393-416 by Gerhard Jaeger and Reinhard Blutner can be divided into
two parts. On the one hand, the authors hold that the ambiguity of
wieder/again cannot be handled by decompositional accounts relying on
scope to resolve the ambiguities, arguing directly against von Stechov
(1996). On the other hand, they present a bidirectional optimality
theoretic framework to account for the ambiguity.

"How are results represented and modified? Remarks on Jaeger &
Blutner's anti-decomposition", pp. 417-451, by Arnim von Stechow is a
direct reply to the previous contribution. The author discusses in
detail the criticism brought forward against the decompositional
approach, acknowledging that some data remain problematic. In the
second part, he incorporates the presented optimality theoretic account
into his decompositional framework.

The last section on flexibility of eventuality-related modification
begins with "Event arguments, adverb selection, and the Stative Adverb
Gap", pp. 455-474 by Graham Katz. Katz begins with the observation that
many adverbs, in particular manner adverbs, cannot be combined with
stative verbs, while one the other hand no adverb can exclusively be
combined with stative verbs (=the Stative Adverb Gap). Katz then argues
that stative verbs do not have an event argument and for this reason do
not allow for manner modification.

Claudia Maienborn's "Event-internal modifiers: Semantic
underspecification and conceptual interpretation", pp. 475-509 argues
for a two-way distinction in which adverbial modifiers are linked to a
sentence's eventuality argument. Event-external modifiers, located at
the VP periphery, relate to the event argument as a whole, while Event-
internal modifiers relate only indirectly to the event argument.
Technically, both types of modifiers bring with them a free variable,
which is either syntactically specified as the event argument (=event-
external modification), or is specified with the help of contextually
salient world knowledge, using abductive inference.

"Flexibility in adverbal modification: Reinterpretation as contextual
enrichment", pp. 511-552 by Johannes Doelling proposes a multi-level
model of meaning representation. This model assumes a level of semantic
form, where operations that lead to a strictly grammatically
determined, context-independent underspecified meaning operate. A
second level is the Parameter-fixed Structure, which results from
operations specifying the underspecified meaning with the help of
contextual enrichment. This model is then shown to account for
reinterpretation phenomena in temporal modification, as well as for
secondary predication.

In "Secondary predication and aspectual structure", pp. 553-590, Susan
Rothstein proposes to analyse secondary predicates, that is
resultatives and depictives, as aspectual modifiers. Secondary
predications introduce an additional event (besides the event
introduced by the matrix verb, that is). For depictives, the two events
in the sentence are subject to the constraint that the two events must
have the same running time and share one argument. For resultatives,
the same constraint must be met, but this time by the culmination of
the event introduced by the matrix verb and the event introduced by the
secondary predication.

"Real adjuncts in the Instrumental in Russian", pp. 591-625 by Assinja
Demijanow and Anatoli Strigin is concerned with the analysis of
adjunct-DPs in the free instrumental case in Russian. After presenting
the many different interpretations such an adjunct-DPs can receive,
they concentrate on giving a uniform semantics for three of these
readings, using an abductive inference system fed by the situations at
hand and world knowledge.

The volume ends with Ilse Zimmermann's paper "German participle II
constructions as adjuncts", pp. 627-649. Zimmermann takes these
participle construction to be reduced sentences. She proposes two
different templates for the composition of modifiers with their
modificanda, distinguishing modification unifying two predicates
relating to participants/situations and modification in which the
modifier has operator status.

The papers in this volume give a comprehensive overview about modifying
adjuncts, with a strong emphasis on the semantic side of the analysis.
Two issues repeatedly occur in the contributions. First, a major
difficulty consists in finding a mechanism that is able to derive all
of the many different readings of modifying adjuncts needed, especially
when their derivation is context- and world-knowledge-dependent. This
problem is addressed in detail by the papers of Doelling, Maienborn,
and Demjjanow and Strigin, all of which use inference via abduction
(all three cite Hobbs et al. 1993 as a major reference on this) in
their derivation mechanisms.

The second issue is complementary to the first one, and concerns the
search for those constraints for such a mechanism that are given by the
language system itself, i.e. that are grammaticalized or lexicalized.
While two papers give more or less lexicalist constraints on
interpretations, or rather, on possible verb-adjunct combinations
(Katz, Ernst), many others concern syntactic constraints. Thus, Frey,
following up on his joint papers with Karin Pittner (1998,1999), argues
that the semantics of an adjunct place it in on of the five different
syntactic classes of adjuncts he postulates. If this is correct, the
syntactic position of an adjunct can also be used in the derivation of
its meaning. This is exactly what two contributors (Maienborn and
Pittner) argue for in the case of locative modifiers and for the
correct interpretation of wieder/again, respectively. Both make use of
the different syntactic classes discussed by Frey. This picture is
complicated by the data discussed in other approaches. Thus, Eckardt's
paper shows that the position of a manner adverb relative to the direct
object can reflect the information-structural status of the direct
object rather than a different adverb reading, while Jaeger and
Blutner's paper points to the role of accentuation in the
disambiguation of readings.

In addition, the data adduced by Shaer in his discussion of causal
readings of "since" sentences containing manner adjuncts are support,
in my view, for an information-structural account for some instances of
the syntactic positioning of pure manner adverbs. An intriguing
solution for the incorporation of these multiple factors that play a
role in the positioning of adjuncts into a semantic analysis would be
to extend the treatment for "wieder" offered by von Stechow, which
incorporates Jaeger and Blutner's optimality theoretic approach, to the
other cases. In this way, the basic insight about the influence of
syntactic position on adjunct interpretation can be maintained while
the other factors (information structure, reading of the direct object,
accentuation) could also be accounted for.

Overall, the papers in this volume connect very well with each other,
be it explicitly or through their topics, and make for very stimulating
reading. The only downside is that the book uses endnotes and not
footnotes, which makes reading the text unnecessarily complicated.

Frey, Werner, and Karin Pittner (1998) Zur Positionierung der Adjunkte
im deutschen Mittelfeld. Linguistische Berichte 176:489-534

Frey, Werner, and Karin Pittner (1999) Adverbialpositionen im deutsch-
englischen Vergleich. In Sprachspezifische Aspekte der
Informationsverteilung. M. Doherty (ed.), 14-40. Berlin: Akademie

Hobbs, Jerry R., Mark E. Stickel, Douglas E. Appelt and Paul
Martin.(1993) Interpretation as Abduction. Artificial Intelligence

Stechow, Arnim von (1996) The different readings of wieder 'again': A
structural account. Journal of Semantics 13:87-138
I work in a DFG ( project on event structures and
am currently writing my PhD Thesis on the formal semantics of manner
adverbs. Feel free to visit my homepage at>.