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What is the appropriate term for a modifying clause that generalizes, rather than limits, the preceding statement? For example: "It is crucial to bring a canteen on the trip, even if the sky is cloudy."

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It's also a "qualifier". Qualification is not implicitly related to limitation; it's just that's a more common kind of qualification than extension (the clause cited here is not really a generalization, just an emphatic extension of the boundary conditions). – John Lawler Apr 9 '13 at 20:14
What Prof. Lawler said. Even making something more general can be seen as limiting it in that direction. It is defining a thing by its qualities and thus narrowing its scope even as it may appear to be broadening it. More general means less specific. Simple as that. – Robusto Apr 9 '13 at 20:26

Carla Lowe, in 'Daily Writing Tips', gives the most appropriate definition of modifier that I've come across:

[W]hat’s a modifier? A modifier is a word, phrase, or clause that “modifies” (says something about, describes, clarifies, qualifies, limits – or adjusts or even alters) another word, phrase, or clause.

But she should probably add extends the boundary conditions of, and/or emphasises after 'limits', as John implies.

Here, 'even if the sky is cloudy' modifies the whole main clause.

It is important to bear in mind the linguistics usage of modify in such analyses; the main 'everyday' sense is 'to adjust in a relatively minor way' - although to the heroes at Top Gear, that might involve converting a saloon car to a boat.

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Unfortunately, that's a semantic definition, and modification is a syntactic phenomenon, and is not properly defined by its semantics. For instance, what is said above about a modifier is also true of a predicate; however, we wouldn't want to say that the verb phrase tires fast modifies the subject NP Bill in the sentence Bill tires fast. – John Lawler Apr 9 '13 at 20:55
And that's a particular-grammar-dependent statement. According to a different take, Two of these relationships, argumenthood and modification, are at bottom semantic relationships (although the expression of argumenthood is more constrained in natural language than purely semantic considerations would dictate) ... ( ling.upenn.edu/~beatrice/syntax-textbook/ch3.html ) – Edwin Ashworth Apr 9 '13 at 22:18
That's syntactic theory. I.e, its goal is to unify all parts of syntax under abstract categories (like X-bar theory, etc); I'm concerned with syntactic description, which requires specification of exact tests for constituency and structural relations, rather than (quite possibly true, and certainly very interesting) generalizations about what they might be related to. While it's certainly true that there's no "interface" between semantics and syntax, it's equally true that semantic definitions of syntactic phenomena usually claim too much or account for too little. – John Lawler Apr 9 '13 at 22:46
Yes - I thought I'd got the parts-of-speech analysis sewn up. Now I'm finding I've just got different dustbin classes with fancier and slightly more logical names. The dustbins are lighter, but they're cluttering up the garden. – Edwin Ashworth Apr 10 '13 at 10:07
There are several kinds of categories that have to be distinguished, since different rules apply to them. Phrase Structures use categories like Noun, Verb, and Verb Phrase; Grammatical Relations use categories like Subject and Object; Anaphoric Relations use categories like Antecedent and Coreferent; Dependency Relations use categories like Modifier of and Complement of. For instance. BTW, this is all spelled out clearly in McCawley 1998 – John Lawler Apr 10 '13 at 15:42

This an adverbial prepositional phrase of concession. Adverbs tell time, place, degree, manner, cause, purpose, condition, or concession.

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