Semantics of Manner Motion Verbs

Why should the following sentences should not be treated as semantically equivalent?

(1a) Marie danced into the room.
(1b) Marie entered the room dancing.

In my language Hindi I have no-way of saying 1 literally.

ERG (English Resource Grammar) does not seem to be treating the above pair semantically equivalent.

(2a) Kim gave Sandy the book.
(2b) Kim gave the book to Sandy.
(2c) Sandy was given the book by Kim.
(2d) The book was given to Sandy by Kim.
(2e) The book, Kim gave Sandy.
(2f) Sandy, Kim gave the book to.
(2g) The book, Sandy was given by Kim.
(2h) To Sandy, the book was given by Kim.

Thanks for the example – perhaps the documentation at needs to be expanded to include some examples of non-equivalence.

Semantic equivalence isn’t the same as logical equivalence. For example, (3a) and (3b) are logically equivalent, meaning that they are true in exactly the same situations (assuming that, if a person hasn’t left, they’ve stayed). However, in the general case, establishing logical equivalence is hard.

(3a) Everyone left.
(3b) No one stayed.

Semantic equivalence is better understood in terms of compositionality. Semantically equivalent sentences involve the same semantic objects combined in the same ways. If we compare (1a) and (1b), only (1b) refers to entering. For example, if we compare (1a) with (1c) below, we can see that “into” doesn’t necessarily entail entering:

(1c) Marie glanced into the room.

Even if we assume that (1a) and (1b) are logically equivalent, they have composed different semantic objects. Because (1b) introduces an “entering” event into the semantics, it also means that they can be modified in diferent ways. Compare the following:

(4a) Marie suddenly danced into the room.
(4b) Marie suddenly entered the room dancing.
(4c) Marie entered the room, suddenly dancing.

Based on (1b), we have the two sentences (4b) and (4c). In (4b), the entering is sudden. This could describe a situation where no one in the room was expecting Marie to enter, and they only noticed her once she entered. Meanwhile, in (4c), the dancing is sudden. This could describe a situation where everyone could see Marie coming, but she only started dancing as she entered. However, based on (1a), it is not possible to set up this contrast, and we only have (4a). This suggests that (1a) and (1b) are not semantically equivalent.

However, it is clear that (1a) and (1b) have similar semantics, and it is certainly true that different languages have different strategies for indicating the direction and manner of motion. If there is a consistent difference between two languages (e.g. English prefers a sentence like (1a) while Hindi prefers a sentence like (1b)), it might be useful to explicitly express this fact. When using Delph-in grammars for machine translation, it is possible to use transfer rules to modify the structure of an MRS, and I think that would work in a case like this.


Thank you very much for your helpful observations.
I agree with you that at this stage we should not worry
about logical equivalence. Your examples 3(a) and 3(b)
can only be accounted by considering quantifiers,
antonym relation and the fact that “no” in “nobody”
really connects with the verb “stay”! So at least at this
stage we must restrict ourselves to simpler principle of
“compositionality” of direct meaning of concerned “meaning units”.
According to my understanding “into” only entails some kind
of “motion” from “outside” to “inside”.
My suggestion is at MRS level we must make the distinction
between following sentences explicit.
5(a) She danced in the room.
5(b) She danced into the room.
I leave the task to experts.
Kindly point out if I am missing something.

Yes, (5a) and (5b) need to be distinguished. The ERG uses different predicates for “in” and “into”, and more generally it distinguishes between directional and stative PPs, as dicussed in this thread.

The problem is that “into” is used more generally than just for motion, as I tried to show with example (1c), repeated below for convenience. While we could say that Marie’s line of sight goes from outside to inside the room, there is no physical motion from outside to inside. Similarly, (1d) does not involve Marie entering anything.

(1c) Marie glanced into the room.
(1d) Marie talked into the microphone.


Are you saying that in case of “danced into” the correct parse should
have _into_p_dir instead of _into_p_state. Yes, that would serve my purpose.
But unfortunately when I tested the sentence it only produced four parses,
each having only _into_p_state.
Coming back to your examples containing “glanced into” or “talked into”
as a non-native speaker of English I can easily explain (1c) and (1d) as:
(6a) Marie directed her glance into the room.
(6b) Marie directed her voice into the microphone.
So in both these cases “_into_p_dir” should be acceptable.
Kindly comment on this point.

Hmm, perhaps the ERG is missing a lexical entry for “dance” as a verb of motion – @Dan is my thinking correct?

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Ii seems that as a novice I have made a mistake in naming this thread so nobody else is
seeing it! Can you please correct the title of this thread?

I checked lexicon.tdl It has only following verbs with the tag “v_pp_dir_le”
lexicon.tdl:arch_v3 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:ascend_v2 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:back_v2 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:barge_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:bowl_v2 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:burst_v3 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:cannon_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:career_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:course_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:feed_v4 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:file_v2 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:get_prd_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:hurry_v3 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:hurtle_v2 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:inch_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:issue_v3 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:lumber_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:melt_v3 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:muscle_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:nosedive_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:nosedive_v2 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:nosedive_v3 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:pop_v2 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:press_v3 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:rain_v2 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:shunt_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:sidle_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:slam_v3 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:slip_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:sneak_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:stalk_v2 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:stride_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:sweep_v2 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:thread_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:thunder_v2 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:tool_v2 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:whisk_v2 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:whiz_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &
lexicon.tdl:wiggle_v1 := v_pp_dir_le &

So your guess seems correct.
Coming back to my statement:
Coming back to your examples containing “glanced into” or “talked into”
as a non-native speaker of English I can easily explain (1c) and (1d) as:
(6a) Marie directed her glance into the room.
(6b) Marie directed her voice into the microphone.
So in both these cases “_into_p_dir” should be acceptable.
Kindly comment on this point.

What’s wrong with the title? At the time of writing, this thread has been viewed 32 times.

For your examples (6a) and (6b), I agree that these have similar meanings to (1c) and (1d), but they don’t have the same meaning and don’t need to have identical predicates in their MRSs. (The similarity in meaning is reflected by the fact that they all use subtypes of _into_p. To check whether predicates are subtypes, you can check the semantic interface.)

I think there’s a more general point here: the ERG only makes semantic distinctions where there’s a corresponding syntactic distinction. So it only distinguishes predicate senses (the third part, like _..._..._dir) when there is a contrast in the syntax. For some applications, it might be useful to recognise word senses that can only be distinguished semantically, but the ERG doesn’t aim to do this kind of word sense disambiguation. Comparing (6b) and (1d), for example, relies on world knowledge (e.g. speaking uses your voice) rather than something in the syntax.

Perhaps @Dan will have further comments about the _dir sense.

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I think something is wrong because:
When I click MRS button at the top, the “title” appears somewhat faint as compared to other topics.

@vineet that simply indicates you have visited this post and not others :slight_smile:

OK. Thanks.