ESD Test Suite Examples
To bark bothers Browne. Chasing the cat is old. What the dog chased bothers Browne.
Nominalization wraps the semantics of a verbal constituent into a nominal predication introducing a referential index bound by a quantifier, and a scopal argument for the handle of the verbal constituent. This process occurs both in lexical rules and in constructions, including nominal and verbal gerunds, interrogative clauses as subjects of verbs or as complements of prepositions, and infinitival clauses or verb phrases as subjects. Nominal gerunds are related by lexical rule to verbs inflected as present participles, and behave uniformly like nouns, being modified by adjectives, taking only oblique complements, and combining with determiners and possessive NPs. Verbal gerunds are nominalizations of full verb phrases, where the internal structure of the phrase is clearly verbal, including adverbial modifiers and NP complements. Interrogative clauses that appear as subjects, or as complements in PPs also undergo nominalization to introduce a nominal entity that forms a suitable semantic argument. Similarly, infinitival VPs and clauses that appear as subjects are nominalized to introduce the expected nominal entity.
- The hasty eating of fish can be dangerous. [Nominal gerund]
- Quickly eating those fish can be dangerous. [Verbal gerund]
- What he said surprised everyone. [Interrogative clausal subject]
- They responded to what he said. [Interrogative clause as object of preposition]
- To say that would compromise his secrecy. [Infinitival VP subject]
- For him to say that would make his guilt obvious. [Infinitival clausal subject]
h0:nominalization[ARG0 x, ARG1 h1] h1:[ARG0 e]
Possessives: While nominal gerunds such as the dog's playful chasing of the cat use the ordinary possessive found in regular noun phrases like the dog's tail, verbal gerunds instead identify the possessive-marked NP as their external argument, and should not introduce the underspecified two-place poss relation (though the 1212 version of the ERG erroneously still does). Thus in his playfully chasing the cat the index for his is the the subject argument (ARG1) of the chasing event, while in his being chased by the cat the role for his is the ARG2, the external argument of the passive verb phrase.
Clausal complements: The ERG normally treats verbal complements as scopal arguments, with the predication of the embedding verb taking the handle of the verbal complement as its argument, both for full finite clausalcomplements as in they thought the dog barked and for verb phrases as in they wanted the dog to bark. However, these verbal constituents undergo nominalization either when they are subjects, as in that they bark should not surprise anyone, or when they are (interrogative clause) complements of prepositions, as in it depends on what the cat finds. This asymmetry can be defended, but is the topic of ongoing discussion, as noted below.
Asymmetrical treatment of clausal arguments in different positions: SaarlandSententialArgument
Spurious ambiguity with one-word gerunds, as in complaining annoys him where the subject could be elaborated either as the nominal gerund constant complaining or as the verbal gerund constantly complaining.