Talk by Josep Ausensi (DAB Nyelvészeti Esték online)

2021, October 14 - 18:00
The division of labor between grammar and the lexicon: A middle ground between lexicalism and neoconstructionism

Az esemény nyelve angol.
The language of this event is English.
Meeting link: https://unideb.webex.com/unideb/j.php?MTID=m837388c39eebeef47da18aa7830e...

Josep Ausensi (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
The division of labor between grammar and the lexicon: A middle ground between lexicalism and neoconstructionism

An influential approach in theoretical linguistics commonly known as neoconstructionism argues that syntax plays a central role in grammar and meaning composition. The role of the lexicon, however, is assumed to be minimal and almost inconsequential for syntax (cf. Embick 2004; Folli and Harley 2005; Borer 2005, 2013; Alexiadou et al., 2015, i.a.). This line of mainstream research thus strongly rejects the idea that the lexicon can provide content that is grammatically relevant. On this view, lexical items are provided with semantic content depending on the syntactic structure they are associated with. Consequently, the semantic interpretation of the syntactic structure is solely determined by syntax, and not by the lexicon. Neoconstructionist approaches are thus at odds with traditional lexicalist approaches, or lexicalism, which in contrast hold that the lexicon has a more prominent and privileged role in building up syntactic structure (cf. Rappaport Hovav and Levin 1998). On this view, exical items such as verbal roots are highly constrained regarding the types of syntactic structures they can be associated with. Namely, the semantic content of verbal classes is taken to be grammatically relevant as it constrains the types of syntactic structures lexical items can be associated with.
In this talk, I explore the validity of the theoretical postulates as described above. In particular, I provide evidence that calls for a middle ground between neoconstructionism and lexicalism. The evidence that I provide shows that verbal classes appear to be more elastic regarding the types of syntactic structures they can be associated with, in contrast to what lexicalist approaches have been arguing for. However, I show that there are still clear incompatibilities between certain verbal classes and syntactic structures in that semantic content seems to impose clear restrictions on the syntactic structure verbal roots can be associated with. The main goal of this talk is thus to reconcile and make clearer the roles that syntax and the lexicon play in the building up of linguistic structure.

References
- Alexiadou, Artemis, Elena Anagnostopolou & Florian Schäfer. 2015. External arguments in transitivity alternations: A layering approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Borer, Hagit. 2005. Structuring sense: The normal course of events, vol. 2. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Borer, Hagit. 2013. Structuring sense: Taking form, vol. 3. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Embick, David. 2004. On the structure of resultative participles in English. Linguistic Inquiry 35(3). 355–392.
- Embick, David. 2009. Roots, states, stative passives. Talk given at the 2009 Roots Workshop, University of Stuttgart.
- Folli, Raffaella & Heidi Harley. 2005. Flavors of v. In Paula Marie Kempchinsky & Roumyana Slabakova (eds.), Aspectual inquiries, 99–120. Dordrecht: Springer.
- Rappaport Hovav, Malka & Beth Levin. 1998. Building verb meanings. In Miriam Butt & Wilhelm Geuder (eds.), The projection of arguments: Lexical and compositional factors, 97–134. Standford, CA: CSLI Publications.

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