Treatment of “off”


DIMAP/NODE and ODE have the same numbering and sense division.


Notes from the spreadsheet:

No new senses were added. Note that

(1)   more than half of the instances of off in the instances file realize the frame “Self_motion” and that

(2)   more than half of the instances are adverbial. See related discussion on this point below.


I’ve assigned the same Srtypes to two pairs of senses. There are subtle differences in their application but I think that for our purposes they can be the same. The difference between senses 1(1) and 4(3) – which share the type PlaceAbandoned – is that in sense 4(3) it is nearly always the case that the partitive movement or state that actually accomplishes the “offness” is between things that were at one point united. In sense 1(1), the partitive movement follows a union that may have been incidental and temporary. Another slight difference, based on ODE’s wording, is that sense 1(1) emphasizes movement away from something, whereas 4(3) emphasizes removal or separation. In both cases, the end result is the same: separation.


Senses 6(3b) and 7(4) are both figurative extensions of off, with meanings denoting someone’s abstinence from some substance. The second of the two is mainly a British idiom and is not likely to be much encountered; they’re not in FrameNet (nor is sense 5, the “absent from” sense).




Other instances of off that may deserve idiomatic treatment

Off is a favorite particle of phrasal verbs and it does not always maintain a defined prepositional sense when so coupled. When the phrasal verb is transitive it is likely that the verb + complement combination will be parsed as verb + preposition + complement, with uncertain results. Some examples: put someone off, pull something off, tick someone off, break off something (i.e., communications), lay off someone/something, set off someone/something, wave someone off. There are many dozens of these, and in the cases where the object is movable, it is somewhat arbitrary whether the occurrence of off will be tagged as prepositional: She chopped off their tails = She chopped their tails off.


There are a number of adjective/adverb phrases beginning with off that are usually spelled hyphenated when attributive, and may be spelled open when predicative. Such a combination of words (e.g., “off balance” at the end of a sentence) would probably be picked up as a PP but would better be treated as a semantic unit. Again, there are probably several dozen of these: off-balance, off-color, off-limits, off-screen, to name a few. Many of these have largely figurative meanings and I don’t know if parsing them according to standing algorithms for PPs will give good results. Where I have encountered any of these in FN I’ve simply assigned the closest sense.


Other notes:

Many tagged instances in FrameNet, which I have labeled “adverbial,” are uses of off that are semantically expendable. It is a habit of speakers, and writers to some degree, to insert an adverbial off between a verb of motion or locomotion and a PP indicating direction. Thus, He wandered into the forest = He wandered off into the forest.