We are happy to announce a talk by Martin Schäfer (Düsseldorf) in the Semantics Colloquium.

The talk will take place on campus in IG 4.301.

Title: Interpretation and placement of English -ly adverbials: a case for a new quantitative approach

Date: October 27

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct


The interplay of position and interpretation of adverbials has received considerable attention over the last 20 years. But even for English, there is no clear consensus on which readings need to be distinguished, which orderings of adverbials are grammatical, and whether, in the case of -ly adverbials, the semantic analysis should be based on the semantics of the base form or not. The aim of my talk is to discuss the ways quantitative measures like collocations and distributional semantics can be leveraged to clarify this picture.
After an overview of the problems, I will discuss three case studies illustrating three different approaches. The first case study shows that collocations of the base adjectives in attributive position annotated for the ontological category of the head allow a more finegrained look at the consistency of lexical classes (here: speed adjectives) which relates to the adjectives’ behavior in other usages. The second case study shows that distributional similarities between adverbial, verb, and direct object play a strong role in shaping word order preferences. The final study discusses the extent to which distributional semantics can be used to gauge the differences between base/ly pairs from different semantic classes.
I will end with an outlook on how the techniques and findings of the three studies can be brought together into a larger new study.