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GermaNet - Verb Classes

Overview of the Verb Classes Used in GermaNet:

  • Verbs of Possession (Besitzverben)
  • Verbs of Location (Lokationsverben)
  • Verbs of Emotion (Gefühlsverben)
  • Social Verbs (Gesellschaftsverben)
  • Verbs of Body (Koerperfunktionsverben)
  • Verbs of Cognition (Kognitionsverben)
  • Verbs of Communication (Kommunikationsverben)
  • Verbs of Competition (Konkurrenzverben)
  • Verbs of Contact (Kontaktverben)
  • Verbs of natural Phenomenon (verben.natPhaenomenon)
  • Verbs of Creation (Schöpfungsverben)
  • Verbs of Change (Veränderungsverben)
  • Verbs of Consumption (Verbrauchsverben)
  • Verbs of Perception (Perzeptionsverben)
  • Stative Verbs (Allgemeine Verben)

Exemplarily, the verb class Location is described in the following.

Verbs of Location (Lokationsverben)

Basic verbs of motion and position are hierarchically structured as follows in GermaNet, following in parts Maienborn (1990). Note that this classification only classifies the verbs themselves and does not make any assumptions concerning the status of the local argument, neither with respect to its facultativity nor to its semantic contribution. This question has been extensively discussed in the literature (apart from Maienbaum (1990) see for example Wunderlich (1991)) to which the reader is referred for further information. It suffices to point out that either view is compatible with the hierarchy presented in GermaNet.

At top-level, the hierarchy of verbs of location distinguishes between the particular class of verb and components the verb specifies further. Every verb of location obligatory belongs to a particular class and can be cross-classified with certain components its semantics specifies further, resulting in a dense network. At the most general level, verbs of location have the verbal hyponyms verbs involving motion and verbs of position, a terminology taken from Maienborn (1990). The two classes are distinguished in the following way: verbs of position specify the mode of position further, whereas verbs involving motion specify the path, either with respect to direction, mode or both.

  • Verbs of position have the hyponyms causative verbs of position and intransitive verbs of position:

    • Causative verbs of position are transitive verbs which refer to an action an agent takes in positioning a theme. Agent and theme can either refer to the same ("reflexive") or different persons. Examples are verbs such as stellen, setzen, legen.

    • Intransitive verbs of position specify the mode by which a theme is positioned, examples of which are verbs such as sitzen, stehen, liegen.

    Note that many causative and intransitive verbs of position are semantically related, for example stellen causes a theme to stehen and legen causes a theme to liegen . This is explicitly coded in GermaNet by an additional causative relation between both verbs.

  • Verbs involving motion have three hyponyms in GermaNet: changement of location, motion on the spot and iterative motion.

    • Motion on the spot involves verbs such as zucken, zappeln and wackeln where the motion only involves part of the object and the object itself is not moved.

    • Iterative motion involves verbs which classify a motion as being repetitive, such as for example pendeln, flattern. This class is relatively small. Nevertheless a separate classification of iterative verbs of motion seems reasonable as they integrate a different concept than other motion verbs, the semantics of which is underspecified with respect to iterativity.

    • Verbs of changement of location have the hyponyms transitive verbs (transport verbs) and intransitive verbs of changement of direction.

      • A transport verb can be defined according to Ullmer-Ehrich (1977) via the following definition of transportation:

      • "A transportation refers to a process in which an agent (x) acts upon a patient (y) such that y changes its location continually from a source (u) along a path (w) to a goal (z)."

        According to Ullmer-Ehrich verbs of transport can be subclassified according to

        (i) their "Aktionsart" (process vs. event). We do not include this feature into GermaNet at the current stage even though it might be necessary to do so at a later stage.

        (ii) the specification of only the changement of location of the patient and verbs for which the agent may change location together with the patient. This differentiation is integrated into GermaNet already. (iii) the manner component which may either specify the motion of the agent or the patient. This is also integrated into GermaNet.

        Verbs of transportation have the following two hyponyms:

        • Verbs with patient-motion involve only the motion of the patient. Examples are verbs such as werfen, schaufeln, tröpfeln.

        • Verbs with subject-motion additionally involve optional motion of the subject. Examples are verbs such as schieben, rollen.

      • A motion verb is distinguished from verbs of transportation by the fact that it is solely intransitive and as such can not be cross-classified with manner of the group specification. Examples are verbs such as gehen, rennen, tippeln, radeln.

Further specified components: the following semantic components of verbs of location can be addditionally specified by means of cross-classification:

  • Noise emission: This refers to verbs of location which combine motion with a particular noise emission. Typically, these are verbs of sound which are used to express motion. Examples are donnern, knallen.

  • Manner of motion: This feature helps to identify the particular theme of which the manner of location is indicated by the verb. Three different modes of realization can be distinguished. In order to be as general and compatible with other theories as possible, the manner-specification does not refer to the thematic roles of verbal arguments but to their syntactic surface complements.

    • Manner of subject: This mode is typical for "verbs of motion" and for all intransitive verbs. As we refer to the syntactic surface position of the complement and not the semantic argument, unaccusatives ans unergatives can both be subsumed under this class. It also applies to many verbs of transportation. Examples are rennen, rollen, tippeln, humpeln.

    • Manner of object: This mode applies to all causative verbs of location and some verbs of transportation. Examples are stapeln, auftürmen, legen.

    • Manner of group: Some verbs can only be used appropriately with reference to a group as moved object. Examples are stieben, schwärmen, tummeln, wimmeln.

  • Speed of motion: This mode applies to verbs which specify the particular speed of motion. It can be distinguished between verbs which involve fast motion, which are hyponyms of eilen and verbs involving slow motion and thus being hyponyms of trödeln. Examples are
    rasen, schleichen.

  • Direction of motion: This feature distinguishes verbs which involve deictic motion or motion in the verticle. For deictic motion, verbs can by hyponyms of kommen which involves motion towards the deictic centre, or of gehen if they involve motion away from the deictic centre. In the verticle, verbs can be hyponyms of herunterbewegen if they involve a downwards motion, or of heraufbewegen if they involve an upwards motion. Examples are herrennen, hinaufgehen, hintippeln.

  • Instrument: These verbs specify the instrument used for motion further.
    • Instrument as Vehicle: Examples are karren, kutschen, kutschieren, schippern.
    • Instrument causes Motion: Examples are schippen, löffeln.