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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter Mouton July 25, 2017

The Semantics of Lexical Underspecification

  • James Pustejovsky
From the journal Folia Linguistica


In this paper, I examine the mechanisms responsible for enabling underspecified lexical forms to acquire a determinate and unique Interpretation in the composition of the sentence. In particular, I study the behavior of several classes of lexical items exhibiting degrees of systematic or logical polysemy. These words present an interesting challenge to conventional treatments of polysemy and füll specification in natural language semantics. Extending the analysis of these classes presented in Pustejovsky (1994, 1995), I elaborate the formal mechanisms responsible for capturing the syntactic and semantic behavior of nouns such äs lecture, prize, book, and lunch, and verbs such äs read, rent, and break. I argue that members of these classes must be represented äs complex types, äs they do not allow for simple conjunctive typing; furthermore, these nouns and verbs display a peculiar behavior regarding the quantificational force of the type which is absent from other nominal and verbal classes. I conclude by discussing the consequences of this analysis for a theory of semantic Underspecification.

Published Online: 2017-7-25

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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