2019-06-08Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.1515/ling-2019-0016
Idioms and the syntax/semantics interface of descriptive content vs. reference
Sprach- und literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
The syntactic literature on idioms contains some proposals that are surprising from a compositional perspective. For example, there are proposals that, in the case of verb-object idioms, the verb combines directly with the noun inside its DP complement, and the determiner is introduced higher up in the syntactic structure, or is late-adjoined. This seems to violate compositionality insofar as it is generally assumed that the semantic role of the determiner is to convert a noun to the appropriate semantic type to serve as the argument to the function denoted by the verb. In this paper, we establish a connection between this line of analysis and lines of work in semantics that have developed outside of the domain of idioms, particularly work on incorporation and work that combines formal and distributional semantic modelling. This semantic work separates the composition of descriptive content from that of discourse referent introducing material; our proposal shows that this separation offers a particularly promising way to handle the compositional difficulties posed by idioms, including certain patterns of variation in intervening determiners and modifiers.
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This publication is with permission of the rights owner freely accessible due to an Alliance licence and a national licence (funded by the DFG, German Research Foundation) respectively.