Center for Human Modeling and Simulation

Document Type

Working Paper

Date of this Version

January 1993


Postprint version. Presented at the University of Pennsylvania Linguistics Forum, 1993, 11 pages.


We can open a door, open an umbrella, or open a jar; we open the safe (open the door of the safe), open the cookies (open the box and plastic pouch) and open a valve (turn the knob and open the pipe). I take open to mean CAUSE X TO BE OPEN and to describe the process of opening. given the diversity that occurs, is it possible to characterize the objects of a verb like open? In this paper I argue that there are similarities among the possible physical objects of the verb open, based on the objects; underlying geometric structure. This regularity, derived from an analysis of tokens extracted from the Brown corpus, is used in the remainder of the paper to analyze similarities amongst abstract use of open: (open a meeting, open a gulf). The proposed analysis also explain limits in usage: #open the chair; #open the question.



Date Posted: 04 September 2007