Prof. Dr. Walt Detmar Meurers
Using lexical principles in HPSG to generalize over valence properties


W. Detmar Meurers


Proceedings of the Third Conference on Formal Grammar. Aix-en-Provence, France. 1997.


One of the key aspects of HPSG theories on Germanic and Romance languages is the lexical specification of verbs selecting a verbal complement. Hinrichs and Nakazawa (1989) showed how the idea of functional composition from categorial grammar can be expressed as part of the specification of a lexical entry, and versions of this argument raising specification have since been used in most work on Germanic or Romance languages. In these proposals, the discussion has focussed on the specification of exemplary lexical entries of verbs which are intended to be representative for certain lexical classes. These classes are not formally represented, but each verb in such an intuitively understood class is intended to bear the illustrated specifications.


A number of questions arise from this situation:


  • How can the implicit notion of a lexical class actually be represented in the theory?
  • How can generalizations (such as the argument raising distribution of valence) over all words in one lexical class be expressed?


Finally, in many current HPSG theories building on Pollard and Sag (1994, ch. 9), the argument structure is represented in every word in addition to the valence specification. Apart from serving as data structure for the binding theory, the precise role of the argument structure representation has yet to be explored. One of the issues which needs to be investigated is the relationship between the elements in the ARG-ST attribute of a lexical entry and the values of the three valence attributes:


  • How can valence properties, including special cases such as argument raising, be obtained as result of a principled mapping between {ARG-ST} and the valence attributes?


In this paper we provide one possible set of answers to these three questions by showing that the mechanisms for representing lexical classes and expressing generalizations over the elements of a class are already available in the HPSG architecture of Pollard and Sag (1994), and how they can be used to express lexical generalizations over the valence specification of different classes of Italian verbs. To situate the proposal, we start out with a brief overview of lexical generalizations and the methods used to capture them in linguistic theory.



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Bibtex entry:

author    = {Meurers, Walt Detmar},
title     = {Using lexical principles in {HPSG} to generalize over valence
booktitle = {Proceedings of the Third Conference on Formal Grammar},  
year      = {1997},
address   = {Aix-en-Provence, France},
url       = {}