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Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft

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Volume 24, Issue 1 (Jun 2005)


Nominalphrasen ohne lexikalischen Kopf — Zur Bedeutung des Genus für die Organisation des mentalen Lexikons am Beispiel der Autobezeichnungen im Deutschen

Klaus-Michael Köpcke
  • Germanistisches Institut, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster.
/ David A. Zubin
  • Linguistics Department, State University of New York at Buffalo.
Published Online: 2005-07-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zfsw.2005.24.1.93


Car names and car-referring expressions are analysed such as (a) “der Berlingo Multispace Ocean,” with characteristic default masculine gender in spite of the absence of a gender-bearing head; (b) “der Audi A3 TDI Ambition Automatik” with default masculine gender despite the presence of an apparent divergent gender-bearing head; and (c) “das weiße Buick-Elektra-Cabrio” with divergent gender (feminine or neuter) conforming to its apparent gender-bearing head. These cause special problems for both a linguistic theory of lexeme-based gender assignment, and a psycholinguistic production theory for gender percolation to NPs. We suggest a motivated basis for considering types (a) and (b) to be syntactically headless, as opposed to type (c). Furthermore, we propose that NP types (a) and (b) receive their default masculine gender assignment through a pragmatic projection directly linked to the conceptualization of the referent as a car (and not from any Lemma in the NP), whereas NP type (c) inherits its gender from a Lemma that is lexically coded for gender; this suggests a revision to Bock & Levelt (1994) style production models. We support these claims with an extensive sample of car-referring expressions from a newspaper database. Finally, we suggest that lexical material in car-referring expressions such as “Siena,” “Oktavia,” or “518i” are instances of field-external lexemes which are either borrowed from another semantic field, or are not resident in any field at all; and thus do not bear lexical gender in car-referring expressions.

About the article

Received: 10. Februar 2004

Revised: 14. Dezember 2004

Published Online: 2005-07-27

Published in Print: 2005-06-20

Citation Information: Zeitschrift für Sprachwissenschaft, ISSN (Online) 1613-3706, ISSN (Print) 0721-9067, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/zfsw.2005.24.1.93. Export Citation

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