Help understanding the variable types 'i' and 'p' in the ERG

I see in the SEM-I there are predicates that sometimes use p as their variable type, some examples:

_absorb_v_1 : ARG0 e, ARG1 i, ARG2 p, ARG3 h.
_install_v_1 : ARG0 e, ARG1 i, ARG2 p, ARG3 h.
_send_v_1 : ARG0 e, ARG1 i, ARG2 p, ARG3 h.

And I see on the semantics basics page it says that p is an underspecification between instances and labels, but I can’t quite grasp what it means to underspecify between these two types and why some verbs allow for either.

Also, while in theory underspecifying between e and x feels more natural at first glance, I also am struggling to understand why it seems like most verbal predicates call for i on their arguments instead of x

Also, for those entries, why is the ARG3 of type h?

Lastly, see that some arguments do use the top-level u type:

_run_v_1 : ARG0 e, ARG1 u, [ ARG2 i ].

Why would it need to be that unspecific?

Some example sentences motivating the need for the underspecification would be greatly appreciated!

1 Like

@ecconrad one thing to understand is that the SEM-I is not a hand-curated resource but one generated from the grammar. I forget the specifics of how that happens, but sometimes what looks like a surprising annotation decision may just be a reflection of the grammar that is not immediately intuitive (or perhaps a grammar bug).

Some verbs can take an instance or a scope handle as their argument, such as believe (here and below I’m using [ and ] to group constituents corresponding to arguments, not for optionality):

  • I believe [her].
  • I believe [she told the truth].

In this case the ARG2’s type is u, but I think it may have been p in a previous version (I used this example in my dissertation, where I said it was p):

_believe_v_1 : ARG0 e, ARG1 i, ARG2 u, [ ARG3 h ].

i usually means that the instance can be dropped. E.g., A species believed to be extinct. Here, ARG1 (who believes) is dropped.

That’s a good question. I think @Dan might need to answer that.

I wonder if it’s just an artifact of how the SEM-I is produced? Consider _advise_v_1:

  _advise_v_1 : ARG0 e, ARG1 i, ARG2 i, [ ARG3 h ].
  _advise_v_1 : ARG0 e, ARG1 i, ARG2 p, ARG3 h.
  _advise_v_1 : ARG0 e, ARG1 i, ARG2 h.

These are used in the following (in order):

  • [I] advise [you] [to get a second opinion].
  • ???
  • [I] advise [that you get a second opinion].

The middle one I don’t have a good example for. It also matches the first sentence, but I can’t think of an example where ARG2 is an h along with an ARG3 that is an h. This could just be a lack of knowledge/creativity on my part.

Having type u means that the value could also be an e. Often an argument selects a scope handle, but sometimes it takes the eventuality EP directly. One example is _active_a_1:

  _active_a_1 : ARG0 e, ARG1 u.
  • I actively [sought] an example.
1 Like