Nominals, Polysemy, and Co-predication*

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  • ABSTRACT

    In this paper, we examine the event/result meaning contrast displayed by Italian nominals derived from creation and redescription verbs, such as costruzione ‘construction, building’ and traduzione ‘translation’. The goal of our research is twofold. First, we intend to verify whether the intriguing pattern of polysemy exhibited by these nominals may be analyzed as a special case of complex type, with the two constituents of the type analyzed as PROCESS and RESULT-STATE, as proposed in Pustejovsky (1995). Second, we want to clarify what factors might be causing the difficulty in co-predication (i.e. simultaneous access to both subtypes, commonly regarded as the test for complex types) that these nominal typically exhibit. Results of this study can be summarized as follows: the RESULT-STATE interpretation (i.e. construction as ‘the state of being constructed’) appears not to be generally accessible to these nominals, and copredication appears to be licensed only under specific syntactic and semantic conditions. We claim that both behaviors follow from the inherent properties of the event associated with these nominals, which encodes a peculiar temporal relation between the subevents. Based on this insight, we propose a revised modelling of the lexical representation of creation and redescription nominals within the Generative Lexicon (GL) framework, informed by empirical evidence. The results of our study help to provide a better understanding of the phenomenon of lexical polysemy and the interplay between aspectual and lexical properties of Action Nominals.


  • KEYWORD

    Nominals , Polysemy , Complex Types , Event Structure , Qualia Structure , Co-predication

  • 1. Introduction

    This paper deals with the event/result polysemy pattern displayed by Nomina Actionis or Action Nominals (henceforth ANs) derived from creation or redescription verbs, such as It. costruzione ‘construction / building’ and traduzione ‘translation’ in (1).

    The event/result meaning contrast displayed by these nouns has been the subject of several theoretical investigations, especially because of the challenging syntactic corollaries related to their semantic ambiguity (cf. Grimshaw, 1990; Alexiadou, 2002). Much less attention, however, has been paid to the phenomenon from a lexical-semantic perspective. Asher (1993) and Pustejovsky (1995) tackled this issue by focusing on the syntactic and semantic structures of the base verbs, and pointing to different formal solutions.

    Based on the achievements of previous works on polysemy (cf. Copestake and Briscoe, 1995), the overall aim of this paper is twofold. First, we intend to verify whether the intriguing pattern of polysemy exhibited by these nominals may be analyzed as a special case of complex type, with the two constituents of the type analyzed as PROCESS and RESULT-STATE, as proposed in Pustejovsky (1995). Second, we want to clarify what factors might be causing the difficulty in co-predication (i.e. simultaneous access to both subtypes, commonly regarded as the test for complex types) that these nominal typically exhibit. Results of this study can be summarized as follows: the RESULT-STATE interpretation (i.e. construction as ‘the state of being constructed’) appears not to be generally accessible to these nominals, and co-predication appears to be licensed only under specific syntactic and semantic conditions. We claim that both behaviors follow from the inherent properties of the event associated with these nominals, which encodes a peculiar temporal relation between the subevents. Based on this insight, we propose a revised modelling of the lexical representation of creation and redescription nominals within the Generative Lexicon (GL) model, informed by empirical evidence. The results of our study help to provide a better understanding of the phenomenon of lexical polysemy and the interplay between aspectual and lexical properties of Action Nominals.

    The structure of the paper is as follows. In section 2 we introduce the classification of complex types in GL theory, paying particular attention to those exhibiting polysemy between event and result readings (section 2.1). In section 2.2 we summarize the issues raised by this analysis and illustrate our theoretical claims, while in section 2.3 we illustrate the methodology we adopted in collecting and examining the empirical data. In sections 3 and 4 we give a unified account of the results of our investigation. We first propose a revised lexical representation for EVENT•RESULT-OBJECT nominals and then spell out the co-predications constraints observed in the data. In section 5 we draw our conclusions and locate the results of our study within a broader perspective.

    2. Theoretical Framework

    In our analysis of ANs’ polysemy, we assume the GL model as our theoretical framework. Classic GL (Pustejovsky, 1995) proposes that the linguistic knowledge associated with a lexical item may be represented through four informational structures,

    The Argument Structure captures the participants in the event described by the predicate. GL introduces a distinction between three primitive argument types:

    The Event Structure identifies the specific event type for a verb or phrase. The primitive event types posited in GL are:

    Qualia Structure consists in four distinct relations, each capturing an essential aspect of the meaning of a word:

    The different meaning dimensions listed above can be represented as a set of features. GL lexical representations are grounded in terms of typed feature structures. The feature representation as shown below in Figure 1 gives the basic template of argument and event variables, and the specification of the Qualia structure for a lexical item α.

    In GL, Qualia roles are used as a basic vocabulary to define the conceptual categories associated with lexical items (semantic types). Pustejovsky (2001) proposes a ranking of types distinguishing between natural and artifactual types, and then complex types, defined as follows.

    Complex types (or dot objects) are reifications of multiple types, bound by a coherent relation. For example, book is a complex type denoting both the informational context (2a) and the physical manifestation of that content (2b), bound by the relation hold. This can be informally expressed as follows: hold (physical object, informational content).

    Complex types were introduced in GL to account for cases when a single word or phrase has the ability to appear in selected contexts that are contradictory in type specification, i.e. in co-predication constructions. For example, in (3) the two senses of book (physical object and informational content) are simultaneously accessed by applying two types of predicates to the same object (portare con sé ‘carry’, selecting for the physical aspect, and tradurre ‘translate’, selecting for the informational one):

    In Figure 2 we report the proposed GL lexical representation for the complex type book (restricted toArgument Structure and Qualia) using the feature structure formalism presented above. From this representation we can see that the polysemy of complex nominals such as book is encoded directly into the type of the object. Particularly, the Formal Quale defines how the two arguments (information and physical object) are related to each other (hold).

    The type of polysemy exhibited by words associated with complex types is referred to as inherent polysemy in GL.

    Having defined the notion of complex type generally, in the next section we turn to the analysis of complex types represented by ANs.

       2.1 Complex types for action nominals

    In GL theory, nominals displaying the event/result meaning contrast are classified as complex types. That is, it is assumed that the event/result senses of ANs are an instance of lexically specified or inherent polysemy (i.e. an ambiguity available by virtue of the semantics inherent in the noun itself). The compositional operation which is assumed to be at play in the disambiguation of dot objects in context is called Dot-Exploitation1 (Dot Object Subtyping in Pustejovsky 1995). Dot exploitation can be seen as a “light” form of coercion. It consists of exploiting only one aspect of a dot type. For example, in (1a), which we repeat in 4 for convenience, the adjectives lunga and laboriosa exploit the EVENT reading of costruzione, while in (b) the verb demolire exploits the RESULT one.

    Regarding the internal composition of AN’s dot types, Pustejovsky (1995) proposes to analyse them as EVENT•EVENT or, more specifically, PROCESS•(RESULT-)STATE. In particular, the author claims that for -ion nominalizations in English, three interpretations are available (i.e. PROCESS, RESULT or PROCESS•RESULT, the latter given by the dot object itself). These interpretations are exemplified below (the examples are taken from Pustejovsky 1995, 170-171):

    Moreover, according to the author, for nominalizations which are derived from verbs of creation (e.g. building, construction, etc.) the result interpretation may correspond either to the individual which is created as a result of the initial process (as in 6 below), or to the state itself (5b).

    The representation proposed for PROCESS•RESULT nominals in GL differs from that proposed for PHYS•INFO complex types such as book. This can be seen if we compare the representation in Figure 2 with that in Figure 3: while in Figure 2 the entire dot object is coded in the Formal Quale of the lexical structure, in Figure 3 the components of the dot type are split between the Formal and the Agentive quale.

       2.2 Discussion

    The research on nominal polysemy patterns, conducted adopting the notion of complex type, has brought about several intriguing puzzles about this class of alleged dots.

    A first issue concerns the nature of the types making up the complex. While Pustejovsky argues in favour of a PROCESS•(RESULT-)STATE polysemy extended to creation nominals, other studies (cf. Apresjan, 1974; Bierwisch, 1991; Asher, 1993; Asher and Denis, 2005; Osswald, 2005; Bisetto and Melloni, 2007; Melloni, 2007; Ježek, 2008) introduce, in addition to events and states, other sortal types for the result reading, such as CREATED OBJECT or RESULT OBJECT.

    A second issue concerns co-predication. Co-predication is generally considered as a reliable diagnostic for identifying dot types: since they are type bundles, dot objects should license predications over either of the two (or more) constituent types. However, it appears that only certain ANs can enter co-predicative contexts and they can do it only in certain syntactic and semantic conditions, including temporal disjunction between the types, omission of the internal argument and insertion of a relative pronoun (cf. Jacquey, 2001 for a thorough analysis of French ANs in co-predication contexts). Consequently, the dot nature of ANs is not uncontroversially accepted, and other scholars have pursued alternative research lines. For instance, Asher and Denis (2005) propose that creation ANs are an instance of disjunctive types / homonymy, and Brandtner and von Heusinger (2010) defend the meaning transfer hypothesis in the line of Nunberg 1995.

    In the present study, we tackle both of the contentious issues raised above. In particular, we show that the (RESULT-)STATE analysis proposed in GL for the result reading of nominals derived from creation verbs is not fully supported by empirical data, and we argue that this is expected because the proposed analysis of the event structure of these nominals does not take into account the distinction between standard causatives and accomplishments taking an incremental theme. The latter class, in fact, includes traditional creation and redescription verbs, which, like consumption verbs and other classes, encode a peculiar temporal relation between the subevents. Therefore, in what follows, we argue that it is the verb event structure that straightforwardly accounts for the polysemy pattern of creation and redescription nominals, which, as the data will show, are in fact unable to refer to a result state.

    Furthermore, we argue that the peculiar temporal structure of the event associated with these nominals is responsible also for the constraints on the simultaneous activation of the event and the result reading in co-predication structures. In particular, we claim that the causal asymmetry existing between the event and the result type, according to which the performance of the event is the precondition for the coming into existence of the result, licenses copredication with these nominals only in specific conditions.

    Starting from an accurate analysis of the semantic and syntactic behaviour of these nominals as attested in the corpus, in the last part of this paper we will show that an analysis of this special case of polysemy, conducted along the lines sketched above, can explain the inaccessibility of the resultstate reading as well as the attested troubles with co-predication.

       2.3 Methodology for Empirical Investigation

    In our empirical investigation, we examine selection contexts extracted from corpus data, where either one sense (EVENT or RESULT) or both senses (EVENT and RESULT) of deverbal nominals is/are instantiated.2 In order to establish which sense(s) is/are activated in context, we pay attention to the selectional properties of the adjectival and verbal collocates of ANs, which, following Rumshisky (2007), we call selectors (cf. also Ježek, 2008). For example, in the expression in (4a) both lunga and laboriosa select a noun typed as EVENT (as shown by the fact that most of their collocates are temporal entities). Therefore, the sense of costruzione triggered in context is the EVENT sense, not the RESULT one. Conversely, in (4b), the predicate demolire selects a CONCRETE OBJECT and it is the RESULT sense that is exploited in context.

    While in section 3.2 we mainly deal with data highlighting a single aspect of the complex sense of the ANs under discussion, in section 4, we focus on contexts in which both senses are simultaneously activated (co-predication contexts). In order to extract co-predication contexts, we use regular expressions based on Corpus Query Language (CQL), which retrieve the typical lexico-syntactic patterns in which co-predication may apply. In particular, we extract contexts in which two selectors appear (either adjectival or verbal or both) and further isolate those that pick out different meanings of the same nominal. For example, to extract contexts containing two adjectival selectors as in (4a), we use various regular expressions, the simplest of which are given in (7) and (8), which retrieve all the contexts in which the noun costruzione is immediately followed by two adjacent adjectives connected by e ‘and’ (7) or ma ‘but’ (8):

    1For formal details, see Asher and Pustejovsky (2006).  2Our dataset is extracted from the ITWaC corpus (Italian Web as Corpus; cf. Baroni and Kilgarriff, 2006) using the Word Sketch Engine corpus query tool (Kilgarriff et al., 2004).

    3. Empirical Findings and Theoretical Analysis

    In this section, we present the results of our research, and put forth an explanation for some of the puzzles posed by the data. We first examine the actual contexts looking at the selectors that highlight the constituents of these complex types, and then challenge some of Pustejovsky’s (1995) claims (3.1). Our explanation for the data calls into play event structure theory and is mainly grounded on Levin and Rappaport Hovav’s work on verb semantics (1998, 1999, in particular), which is incorporated here in Pustejovsky’s GL framework (3.2). A formal modeling of the ANs at stake is attempted in section 3.3. Finally, in section 4, we turn to the analysis of co-predication contexts, discuss the constraints identified in our study and offer a possible interpretation based on the subeventual analysis proposed in section 3.2.

       3.1 Result State or Result Object?

    In this section we examine whether the polysemy patterns displayed by ANs can in fact be reduced to the EVENT•(RESULT)STATEpolysemy proposed in Pustejovsky (1995). In general, our analysis confirms that the (RESULT-) STATE interpretation is available to several deverbal nominals. For example, both isolamento and ostruzione may express the process of isolation or obstruction (cf. 9a and 10a) and the STATE of being isolated or obstructed (9b-c and 10b):

    b. L’ostruzione può essere temporanea o permanente. (STATE)

    ‘The obstruction may be temporary or permanent’

    c. Questo test permette di capire esattamente dove si trova l’ostruzione. (RESULT-OBJECT)

    ‘This test allows to understand exactly where the obstruction is’

    Concerning isolamento, obviously it is not the process of being isolated which determines the survival of certain species in (9b) but their state of being isolated. A comparable analysis applies to ostruzione, with the difference that the example in (10c) shows that ostruzione may refer to an object besides the event and state interpretation displayed in (10a/b). (The reader may have noticed that ostruzione in (10c) does not necessarily refer to a result object, that is, an object put into existence as the result of the corresponding event. See Melloni (2010) for an analysis of these cases).

    The (result-)state interpretation, however, is generally not accessible to nominals obtained from verbs expressing events which put a new entity into existence. In other words, nominals such as costruzione ‘construction’ or traduzione ‘translation’ (i.e. those obtained from a creation and a re-description predicate respectively), are unable to refer to the resulting state of the event they encode. For example, construction or translation cannot refer to the state of being constructed or translated, nor can they denote the state of existence of the construction and translation respectively. Consider the sentence with costruzione below.

    The first predicate in (11) (protrarsi ‘go on’) unambiguously triggers the (uncompleted) process interpretation of costruzione even though the second proposition should make the nominal more compatible with a state (/existence) reading. Since a state reading of costruzione is not available, the sentence is semantically acceptable only under the interpretation by which an uncompleted building (the mall anaphorically resumed in the second part of the sentence) is undergoing demolition.

    While the state reading is not available, creation and redescription nominals can instead refer to the concrete or abstract objects obtained by the associated event, as we can see from the example below:

    This is a polysemy pattern that is common to almost all creation nominals (e.g. composizione ‘composition’, coniazione ‘coinage’, creazione ‘creation’, formazione ‘formation (/team)’, produzione ‘production’, etc.) and redescription nominals (e.g. citazione ‘quotation’, copiatura ‘copy’, falsificazione ‘falsification’, imitazione ‘imitation’, rappresentazione ‘representation’, registrazione ‘registration’, ricopiatura ‘(fair) copy’, ricostruzione ‘reconstruction’, rifacimento ‘remake’, riproduzione ‘re-production’, riscrittura ‘re-writing’, trascrizione ‘transcription’, etc.) On these grounds, we argue that the notion of result—for creation and re-description nominals at least—hinges primarily on the concept of abstract or physical object yielded by the corresponding event instead of the resulting state. We thus propose that the event/result polysemy exhibited by these nominals should be classified primarily as EVENT•(RESULT-)OBJECT, rather than PROCESS•(RESULT-)STATE.3

    Since, as we have seen above (ex. 9/10), there are ANs (derived from causative verbs) that can refer to the process/event, to the result state, and to the created object, the question we address next is: what blocks the state interpretation for creation and re-description nominals like construction or translation and not for nominals like obstruction? We will address this issue in the next section.

       3.2 An Event Structure Analysis of Creation/Redescription Verbs

    The analysis of nominals polysemy we propose in this section takes into account the semantics of the verb which is the base of the nominalization process. Building on recent work on verb semantics, we suggest that Pustejovsky’s (1995) analysis of event structure, which motivates the PROCESS•STATE polysemy of ANs such as development / building, does not capture the distinction between standard causatives and accomplishments taking an incremental theme. The latter class, in fact, includes traditional creation and redescription verbs, which encode a peculiar temporal relation in their event structure composition.

    We thus argue that it is verb event structure which straightforwardly accounts for the polysemy patterns of creation and redescription nominals, which are in fact unable to refer to a result state. We will now elaborate on this point (for further explanation, cf. Melloni, 2007 and Ježek and Melloni, 2009).

    Verbs such as costruire or tradurre lexicalize a process targeting an endpoint, and—with a quantized object—they can be defined as telic predicates at the VP level. According to Dowty’s classification, therefore, they are accomplishments like break, isolate, obstruct, etc. However, finer-grained semantic analyses such as Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1999) argue in favour of a simple Event Structure (ES) for accomplishments taking incremental themes. While accomplishments are usually analyzed as causative verbs, hence amenable to a complex event analysis like the one in (13) (cf. Rappaport Hovav & Levin, 1998),4 Levin & Rappaport Hovav (1999: 213) argue that creation and re-description verbs differ from “regular” accomplishments inasmuch as they undergo a semantic process of EVENT Co-IDENTIFICATION at the ES level, initiated by the incrementality of the creation process.

    Co-identification of the constituent subevents in a complex event structure is defined as the relation that holds between subevents that are distinct in terms of conceptual structure but that can be represented as a single simple event in ES terms if the following conditions are met:

    As for creation and re-description predicates such as costruire and tradurre, co-identification is instantiated by what is generally acknowledged as the incremental theme (Dowty 1991) and specifically by the property of the incremental theme of measuring out the extent of the event through its physical extension. In the case of creation verbs, the incrementality is realized as the mapping of object onto event; as suggested by Krifka (1992), the physical extension of the argument is mapped onto the temporal extension of the event. In the case of redescription predicates, the incrementality of the predicate (or its scalar nature, see note 5) is instantiated by the physical or informational extent of two objects: the object which is the source of the translation, and the object that comes into existence throughout the event.

    It is worth noticing however that, in order to account for the flexible syntactic manifestation of incremental theme verbs, Levin & Rappaport Hovav equate this class with the aspectual class of process/activity verbs, which differ from standard accomplishments in several important respects, most importantly, homogeneity (see Bach, 1986 on this topic). Moreover, in their analysis it is not easy to capture the relation holding between the subevents in the complex predicate, if any. It cannot really be a causative relation, as indicated in the LCS in (13), since, as it is well known, Cause implies precedence. That is, if Cause holds between a subevent P and a subevent S, then P precedes S. Intuitively, however, Cause is the very relation at stake in creation and redescription events: in order for a house/translation to exist, there must have been a building/translating process bringing it into existence. The building/translating process is a sufficient condition for the existence of the house. Hence, we raise the question of whether and how it is possible to combine Levin & Rappaport Hovav’s considerations on incrementality and Event Structure with the temporal ordering of subevents implied in causal structures.

    The hypothesis we pursue is that, given a causative structure, the two subevents composing it may or may not overlap. In the case of creation predicates, the causing event precedes the state subevent (corresponding in fact to a series of existence states) which is in complete overlap with the former, as schematically represented below:

    In this analysis, however, E2 is not only co-extensive but is also temporally dependent on E1 because of the incrementality of the theme, as predicted in event co-identification theory (cf. point a, above).

    The temporal constitution of these complex events can be captured in the GL theory of ES with the relation <°∝ holding between E1 and E2, which means precedence and overlap. In this respect we depart from Pustejovsky (1995), who proposes simple precedence <° for accomplishments such as build and reserve <°∝ for verbs like move.

    The crucial point for the present analysis of the polysemy of nominals is that, in this view, since the causing process (E1) overlaps the state subevent (E2), there is no independent access to the BECOME subevent and to the resulting STATE either. Such inaccessibility to the state, we argue, is inherited by the nominal, which is therefore incapable of yielding a result state interpretation.

    On the contrary, the result state interpretation is available to those nominals which are derived from causatives implying no temporal overlap and in which a certain (reversible/transitory) state is independently represented in the temporal ordering of the event, as in isolate (cf. data in 9).

       3.3 Formal Modeling of ANs

    In this section, we present a proposal of lexical representation for the complex types costruzione and traduzione, that is, polysemous ANs derived from a creation and a re-description verb respectively. This proposal incorporates the considerations and empirical findings illustrated in the previous section and departs from the representation of action nominals proposed in the GL framework both in Event Structure and Qualia Structure representation. We begin with creation nominals and then turn to re-description nominals.

    3.3.1 Creation nominals

    In Figure 5, we propose a GL-modeled lexical representation for construction.

    Our proposal is grounded on the assumption that event and argument structures of the base verb are inherited by the corresponding derived nominal (see Melloni 2006, 2007 and Ježek 2009 for proposals along these lines). The Event Structure of costruzione, thus, is a complex ES, since it contains a causing process and a (series of) state(s) connected by a temporal relation envisaging precedence and overlap (<°∝), as illustrated in section 3.2. Further, the Argument Structure of costruire contains three default arguments, namely the agent (d-ARG1), the artifact (the resulting object, d-ARG2) and the material out of which the artifact is created (d-ARG3). In the derivation process, the EVENT subtype preserves the base verb AS, while the RESULT subtype entirely “absorbs” (or semantically incorporates) d-ARG2, corresponding to the object position (y). The (un-)availability of the internal argument at the semantic level is set by dot exploitation, allowing predication over one of the two aspects in the complex type, hence defining the relevant type in the context.

    As for Qualia Structure, our representation in Figure 5 is in line with the representation proposed in classic GL for standard dot objects like book and door, but it deviates crucially from EVENT•EVENT dots like examination and arrival (cf. Pustejovsky 1995) not only in type composition (EVENT•RESULT object, instead of PROCESS•RESULT STATE) but also in the constitution of the Formal Quale. As we stated in section 2, the classic representation of dot objects envisages a relational representation in the Formal Quale, consisting in a predicative structure defining the relation between the arguments / types in the complex (Figure 2), while representation of the PROCESS•RESULT nominals splits the types in the complex between the Agentive and the Formal Qualia (cf. Figure 3 above). Thus, in our proposal in Figure 5 we adhere to the original interpretation of Formal Quale and propose to encode in it the relation between the subtypes in the dot type.

    Specifically, as for the noun costruzione, we propose that the predicate CAUSE, specifying the relation between e1 and e2, is explicitly part of the makeup of the nouns’ Formal role. Since e2 (the existence state) is not independently “accessible,” modulo the event structure composition and temporal overlap with e1, we propose that the y argument, corresponding to the verb internal argument and referring to the individual / physical object resulting from the construction event, is the second aspect of the sense bundle in the complex type. Hence, the Formal role encodes the causal relation between the two subevents in the noun costruzione: a process interpretation and an existence-state interpretation, which is only accessible indirectly via its argument.

    In this way, our representation is able to capture the polysemy between the event and the (resulting) object.

    Let us now turn to the other Qualia in the lexical representation. In line with the discussion on the asymmetry between the types in the complex in section 3.2, our formal modeling envisages a split Qualia representation. More specifically, we propose that the predicates in the qualia roles refer either to one or the other of the types in the dot. Therefore, the Agentive role encodes the causing process/activity in a costruzione event, which triggers the coming into existence of y, through transformation of material (z) into artifact (y). The Telic role specifies the function of a costruzione event, which is the accomplishment of the event itself, hence the existence of the object y. The Constitutive role encodes the material (z) out of which a construction (y) is made. Dot exploitation accounts for the relevant Qualia role “activation” in the semantic composition process in the sentential context.

    3.3.2 Re-Description nominals

    The case of costruzione is not particularly challenging for modeling purposes, since the types in the dot object correspond to the Event argument and to a syntactic argument of the base verb. For most AN complex types, however, the situation is more complicated, since the result does not necessarily correspond to a syntactic position in the argument structure of the base verb. With the exception of nominals derived from creation verbs (e.g. build, construct, create, etc.), most result nominals do not introduce reference to an entity which corresponds to a syntactic argument of the base verb.

    Consider traduzione, obtained by a re-description predicate, tradurre ‘translate’: the result of the event (i.e. translation as an informational object), although temporally and causally dependent on its accomplishment, is not expressed by a dedicated DP in the syntax. However, this piece of information, we claim, must be codified somehow in the semantic structure of the base verb and the derived nominal. We propose that it is encoded in the form of a semantic participant and, more specifically, as a “hidden argument” (cf. Badia and Saurí, 2001) in the Argument Structure of the predicate tradurre, which, in classic GL, does not only contain participants which are projected in the syntax but also those participants that are implied in verb semantics. As clarified in section 2, Argument Structure in GL is primarily conceived as a semantic layer of representation and although the hidden argument never surfaces in the verbal and nominal syntax, it is relevant for the interpretation of both verbal and, especially, nominal semantics, where it represents the result type in the dot object.

    Concerning the derived nominal traduzione, inheriting both the Event and the Argument Structure of the base verb, the hidden argument (z) in Figure 6, identifying the result of the event, surfaces at the level of both Argument Structure and Qualia Structure. As explained in section 3.2, the present analysis of Event Structure composition for creation events also applies to re-description events, envisaging the same precedence and overlap temporal relation between their subevents. Hence, also in this case, the event structure is made up of two subevents, with the second (partially) overlapping with the causing event. However, while the (syntactic) object of a creation event is the created entity, the (syntactic) object of a re-description event is the theme/source argument in the first subevent (its existence is not affected by the translating event). The second subevent, whose temporal unfolding is overlapped by the causing process, becomes semantically accessible through the hidden argument (z), that is, the info-object that comes into existence as the result of the translation process.

    With these considerations on Argument Structure and Event Structure in mind, we turn to the modelling of Qualia Structure for redescription nominals. Starting from the Formal Quale, we propose that CAUSE is responsible for the relation between the sub-events in the complex type. However, in this case the existence subevent (e2) is accessed, not through the internal argument (y) as with creation nominals, but through the hidden argument (z), which is the object that comes into existence throughout the unfolding of the event.

    Further, the split Qualia Structure implementation proposed for creation nominals also applies to redescription nominals. Specifically, besides the Formal, the EVENT type envisages an Agentive role (encoding causing activity/process, e1) and a Telic role, where its function is understood as the accomplishment of the event itself, hence the existence of the result (the hidden argument z).

    3Although the present analysis mainly hinges on Italian data, we believe that a similar pattern of polysemy can be found in many other Indo-European languages, where event nominals share comparable morpho-syntactic and semantic patterns.  4See, however, the distinction proposed in Van Valin (2005) between Accomplishments and Causative Accomplishments (Van Valin, 2005:34).  5This proposal presupposes homomorphism between the temporal unfolding of the event and a scalar property or degree value. That is, different values along the scale of change map onto different portions of the event expressing the change (cf. Hay, Kennedy, & Levin, 1999).

    4. Co-predication Issues

    After discussing the implications of Event Structure analysis for the inaccessibility to the result state interpretation for ANs (3.2) and modelling their lexical representation in the GL framework (3.3.1 and 3.3.2), in this section we turn to the analysis of the behavior of ANs with respect to co-predication. Our aim is to show that the constraints on co-predication that these nominals exhibit can also be ascribed to the inherent properties of their subeventual structure, specifically to the temporal ordering between the subevents and the arguments associated with them, as discussed in section 3.2. After some general remarks on co-predication, we therefore examine some empirical data to support this claim (4.1).

    As mentioned in section 2.2, co-predication is generally assumed to be the main diagnostic for complex types. In fact, the very reason why complex types were introduced in GL and distinguished from other kinds of regular polysemy, is that the former exhibit felicitous co-predications while the latter do not. It has also been noted, however, that co-predication does not work equally well for all kinds of complex types (as in the case of ANs) and, more importantly, that it may involve artifactuals as well (Asher & Pustejovsky 2006; corpus evidence in Pustejovsky and Ježek 2008). For example in (14), two senses of vino ‘wine’ (DRINKand CONTAINER) are predicated in the same context, the former by the modifier rosso ‘red’ (which, in GL terms, activates the Formal Quale of wine), and the latter by the predicate aprire ‘open’, which selects an argument of type CONTAINER. However, despite the apparent co-predication, vino is generally assumed to be lexically associated with a simple artifactual type (DRINK) instead of a complex type CONTAINEE•CONTAINER , and to license a sense extension to CONTAINER only contextually, as a coercion effect induced by the semantic requirements of the selecting predicate aprire. The idea behind this is that while co-predication activates a sense which is already available in the lexical item as a subcomponent of a complex type, coercion effects shift the type in context. Clearly, the distinction between these two operations is not always easy to draw.

    Moreover, it has been noted that semantic anomaly with certain copredications (zeugmaticity in Cruse’s terms, cf. Cruse 2004) does not necessarily imply the absence of inherent polysemy. In particular, Asher (2011) observes, for example, that with the noun city the order of senses seems to play a role in the acceptability of co-predication, suggesting that sense combinations may be subject to discourse effects:

    Similarly, Brandtner (2009) notices that if the relation between the conjuncts is made more salient (as in (16b)), the degree of felicity of a co-predication is higher:

    Finally, from a structural point of view, what exactly counts as a co-predication is still controversial in the linguistic literature; in particular, it is unclear whether the term co-predication should be restricted to classic coordinative constructions as in (15) and (16), or if it should be extended to DP-VP structures of the type in (14) and structures where one of the selectors is located in a modifying (restrictive) subordinative clause as in (17) (taken from Jacquey 2001, 255):

    With this background in mind, let us now turn to the analysis of co-predication data with ANs.

       4.1 Co-predication with ANs

    In general, if we adopt a classic notion of co-predication, according to which only coordinate constructions count as co-predications, our empirical investigation confirms what we know from the existing linguistic literature: co-predication with event/result nominals is infrequent. With the help of CQL, we looked for corpus instances of coordinative constructions containing either (i) coordination between two adjectives, (ii) coordination between an adjective and a complement modifying the nominal, or (iii) coordination between two verbs. However, the resulting constructions appear to be extremely infrequent when compared with cases in which two selectors activate the same sense. In other words, most coordinate constructions appear to predicate over a single aspect of the type, either the EVENT as in (18) or the RESULT type as in (19):

    If, however, a broader notion of co-predication is adopted, in particular one which includes structures in which one of the predications is performed via a modifying relative clause, our analysis shows that ANs are found in a typology of co-predications sharing the following syntactic and semantic constraints:

    We claim that the constraints in (20) receive a straightforward explanation if one takes into account the causal asymmetry that exists between the two elements that make up the complex types of ANs (cf. section 3.2 above). Not only are the EVENT and RESULT types radically distinct ontological categories, but the RESULT type is the causal by-product of the EVENT type and as such it is dependent on the EVENT type, but not vice-versa. This asymmetry, we argue, challenges the chance of co-predication in coordinative constructions, because these constructions establish a parallel between the types, which is lacking in the case of ANs. By contrast, constructions consisting of a main clause and a dependent relative clause are asymmetric from a structural point of view and therefore more likely to contain ANs’ co-predications.

    It will be helpful at this point to look at three co-predication contexts for It. creation nominal costruzione ‘construction’ and redescription nominal traduzione ‘translation’ to clarify these points:

    In (21), protrarre ‘continue’ selects the EVENT type (E-type), while rimanere un’importante testimonianza ‘represent important evidence’ selects the RESULT type (R-type) of the complex type costruzione.6 We claim that copredication is felicitous in this context because of three facilitating factors: (i) type selectors (i.e. protrarre and rimanere un’importante testimonianza) are split between the main clause (R-type) and relative clause (E-type) thus satisfying the asymmetry which characterizes the relationship between the two types; (ii) there is temporal disjunction between the E- and the R-type, namely Past for the E-type selecting predicate protrarsi and Present for the R-type selecting predicate rimanere un’importante testimonianza; and (iii) the internal argument is not realized (the RESULT interpretation would be blocked in case of internal argument projection as in la costruzione della villa ‘the construction of the villa’).

    Let us now consider (22):

    In (22), devono essere vietate lit. ‘must be prohibited’ selects the E-type (one can clearly forbid an event to happen, but not an object) while impediscano ‘block’ selects the R-type. As in (21) we argue that co-predication in (22), is facilitated by the following factors: co-predication is split between the main and relative clause, reference to the R-type is introduced prior to reference to the E-type and the internal argument of the EVENT reading is not realized. 7

    Finally, consider an example of co-predication with It. redescription nominal traduzione ‘translation’:

    In (23), the implicit predicate completata ‘completed’, which agrees with traduzione, selects the E-type while si può caricare ‘may be uploaded’ selects the R-Obj type. Here, the R-Obj type selector is introduced in the main clause while the E-type is introduced in the subordinate clause; moreover, there is temporal disjunction between the types such that reference to the E-type precedes reference to the R-type. In this way, the internal asymmetry between the types is mirrored by the structural and semantic asymmetry of the co-predicative context.

    6Note that rimanere un’importante testimonianza represents a copulative structure, insofar as the verb rimanere behaves as a copula in this context (cf. essere un’importante testimonianza ‘to be an important evidence’). Although we are aware that copulative structures constitute a controversial case of copredication, we opted to include them in our data as borderline cases which deserve further investigation.  7An anonymous reviewer raised an interesting issue concerning the selective properties of the English synonym of impedire ‘forbid’, which could select for object-denoting nouns, such as in “Umbrellas are forbidden in here.” We in fact believe that sentences like this one are instances of “type coercion,” where the predicate forbid coerces the type of its selected object noun into an event by exploiting an underspecified predicate (“to carry”) associated with the artifactual noun umbrella, so that the actual meaning of the aforementioned sentence is “Using/Carrying umbrellas is forbidden in here.”

    5. Conclusions

    This research, though focused on a class of nouns deeply studied in the linguistic literature, helps to clarify the nature of an intriguing pattern of inherent polysemy. The event/result polysemy is in fact widely attested in deverbal ANs, but it stands as a peculiar case of type bundling when compared with standard cases of dot objects on both theoretical and empirical grounds.

    Specifically, we have proposed that such polysemy is formally codified at the level of Qualia Structures of the base verbs and corresponding nominals. The relation between the senses is identified as ‘causal’ and specified in the Formal role of the nominal Qualia Structure. However, event/result nouns are crucially different from standard complex types, since the RESULT sense is causally dependent on the EVENT sense, a situation we refer to as (structural and semantic) asymmetry. Troubles with co-predication are the direct indication of such asymmetry and can be explained in relation to different syntactic and semantic requirements of the event and result types.

    By examining the interplay between aspectual and lexical properties of event/result deverbal nouns and framing it in terms of asymmetric complex types, our study offers a new way to look at ANs and contributes to a better understanding of the phenomenon of lexical polysemy.

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  • [Figure 1.] Lexical representation in GL.
    Lexical representation in GL.
  • [Figure 2.] book.
    book.
  • [Figure 3.] examination
    examination
  • [Figure 4.] Event Structure of creation/redescription verbs.
    Event Structure of creation/redescription verbs.
  • [Figure 5.] costruzione.
    costruzione.
  • [Figure 6.] traduzione.
    traduzione.