Constructions with Lexical Integrity

Ash Asudeh, Carleton University & Oxford University, United Kingdom
Mary Dalrymple, Oxford University, United Kingdom
Ida Toivonen, Carleton University, Canada


Construction Grammar holds that unpredictable form-meaning combinations are not restricted in size. In particular, there may be phrases that have particular meanings that are not predictable from the words that they contain, but which are nonetheless not purely idiosyncratic. In addressing this observation, some construction grammarians have not only weakened the word/phrase distinction, but also denied the lexicon/grammar distinction. In this paper, we consider the word/phrase and lexicon/grammar distinction in light of Lexical-Functional Grammar and its Lexical Integrity Principle. We show that it is not necessary to remove the word/phrase distinction or the lexicon/grammar distinction to capture constructional effects, although we agree that there are important generalizations involving constructions of all sizes that must be captured at both syntactic and semantic levels. We use LFG’s templates, bundles of grammatical descriptions, to factor out grammatical information in such a way that it can be invoked either by words or by construction-specific phrase structure rules. Phrase structure rules that invoke specific templates are thus the equivalent of phrasal constructions in our approach, but Lexical Integrity and the separation of word and phrase are preserved. Constructional effects are captured by systematically allowing words and phrases to contribute comparable information to LFG’s level of functional structure; this is just a generalization of LFG’s usual assumption that “morphology competes with syntax” (Bresnan, 2001).


syntax; lexicon; semantics; constructions; Lexical Integrity; templates; Swedish; Dutch; LFG; Glue Semantics

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ISSN of the paper edition: 2299-856X