Treatment of “against”


The ODE sense division is sound, at least when examined in relation to FrameNet (which seems to have a paucity of data). There is a slight difference between NODE and ODE only in sense order in sense two, and I wonder if this isn’t merely a mistake in the DIMAP file: see DIMAP 4 and 5, vis-à-vis ODE 2 and 2a.


ODE lumps all locational senses of “against” under one core sense, including both those denoting things at rest (leaning against the wall) and those coming to rest, often suddenly, as a result of collision (banging your head against the wall). I’ve left these lumped as they are, but if the distinction is useful, they could easily be separated, based pretty much on the POA: the “at rest” instances stand out pretty clearly from the “collision” instances. FrameNet lumps along the same lines that ODE does.


Other lumping/splitting issues: ODE core sense 1 and its subsenses (DIMAP 1-3) are essentially the same; the distinctions among them identify contexts: the core is general/catchall; 1a is legal conflict, 1b is sports or competitive conflict. The same POAs and complements can appear for any of them, and only fuller context makes it clear whether the conflict in question in in the courtroom, on the basketball court, or somewhere else. FrameNet seems to have developed distinct frames for legal conflict in some cases, and this is reflected in the mapping. A peculiarity of the legal senses that further distinguishes them is that is “with” is never interchangeable, as it is with sports (a match with/against Maddox), and in other contexts (their war with/against the IRA). But charges/accusations/judgements/cases are only against sb. I suppose one could say “our case with the manufacturer” and denote the same thing as against, but this would be the only legal wording where it seems interchangeable with “against.”


Notes from the spreadsheet:

There was no cause to add new senses. The FrameNet evidence for against seems particularly sparse: no evidence of ODE senses 2a, 2c, 3, 3a, which is nearly half of those defined.


Other instances of against that may deserve idiomatic treatment

ODE identifies “have sth against sb” which falls more or less into sense 1. Numerous English idioms incorporate against in senses that fall within the inventory, but might be worth singling out as units because of their invariable collocation with a particular lexeme (in bold in the following list):

have sth/the cards/the deck stacked against one

dead set against sth/be set against sth/have one’s heart set against sth

against the clock

play both ends against the middle

1/2/3 strike(s) against sb