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Natural Language & Linguistic Theory

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 215–261 | Cite as

What about lexical semantics if syntax is the only generative component of the grammar?

A case study on word meaning in German
  • Tillmann ProssEmail author
Article

Abstract

This paper explores the semantic consequences of the principle of containment embodied by the popular assumption that word formation is entirely syntactic and that there is no generative lexicon. According to the principle of containment, the analysis and structure of a given form must also be contained within the analysis of any structure derived from that form. The implications of the containment principle for the analysis of word meaning are elucidated with a detailed case study of ambiguous German nominalizations. The resulting analysis of ambiguous German nominalizations is employed as a probe into the structure and analysis of contained constructions to derive novel insights about the syntax and semantics of adjectival participles in German.

Keywords

Lexical semantics Syntax-semantics interface Word formation Ambiguity Nominalization Participle Adjectival passive Causatives Possession German 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the handling editor Gillian Ramchand and three anonymous reviewers for having carefully read earlier versions of the paper. The paper profited very much from their instructive and detailed comments. I am also indebted to the reviewers and participants of the 3rd Workshop on Aspect and Argument Structure of Adjectives and Participles (WASAAP 3), the 6th Workshop on Nominalizations (JeNom 6) as well as the participants of the syntax/semantics research group at the University of Texas at Austin for helpful comments on earlier versions of the paper. I would particularly like to thank Antje Roßdeutscher and Hans Kamp for reading and commenting on numerous earlier versions of the paper. All remaining errors are my own. The research reported in this paper was supported by a grant of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) to the project B4 “Lexikalische Information und ihre Entfaltung im Kontext von Wortbildung, Satz und Diskurs,” as part of the Collaborative Research Center SFB 732 “Incremental Specification in Context.”

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of StuttgartStuttgartGermany

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