During 2017 and 2018, there will be a series of mutual visits between our department and the Laborartoire de linguistics formelle in Paris. The overreaching topic of this co-operation is “One-to-many correspondences in morphology, syntax and semantics”.
The Frankfurt part of the co-operation is supported by the DAAD program Programme des projektbezogenen Personenaustauschs. The co-operation builds on research contacts that have been developing over the last few years, which have let, for example, to establishing the European Workshops on Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar.
We will inform on the progress of this co-operation on this blog. Here is a summary of the main ideas of the project.
Summary of the project
The standard view of the form-meaning interfaces, as embraced by the great majority of contemporary grammatical frameworks, consists in the assumption that meaning can be associated with grammatical form in a one-to-one correspondence. Under this view, composition is quite straightforward, involving concatenation of form, paired with functional application in meaning.
In this collaborative project, we want to investigate linguistic phenomena across several grammatical sub-modules (morphology, syntax, semantics) that apparently pose a problem to the standard view, mapping out the potential for deviation from the ideal of one-to-one correspondences, and developing formal accounts of the range of phenomena, with special reference to the theory of Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar. In particular, we shall investigate how the lexical and constructional aspects of this theory can be combined to provide an answer to this question across different linguistic sub-theories. We define three working packages within the project:
Morphology: Possibly the first module of grammar where the ideal of one-to-one correspondence has been challenged is morphology. The project aims at investigating one-to-many phenomena in the presence of grammatical formatives (fusion, multiple and overlapping exponence), but also with respect to their realization (segmental, tonal, …). The project aims at incorporating morpheme-based and word-based approaches within a formal theory of morphology based on typed feature structure inheritance (Information-based Morphology).
Syntax (i.e., the syntax-morphology interface): Depending on the language or the phenomenon, one-to-many correspondences of the type found in morphology carry over to syntax. It is planned to look at periphrastic constructions, reduplication, and complex predicate formation. We shall explore to what extent these phenomena overlap, whether they can receive a unified description, and what exactly sets them apart. We will also look at syncretism, which seems to require underspecification at the morphology-syntax interface.
Semantics (i.e., the form-meaning interface): We plan to explore one-to-many correspondences that are particularly challenging for current approaches to the syntax-semantics interface, such as semantic concord phenomena, polyadic quantification, relative clauses (many-headed relative clauses and reconstruction effects), and idiomatic expressions. We aim at accounting for these challenges in a constraint-based framework of combinatorial semantics.
It is the aim of this project to make a strong case for accepting one-to-many correspondences as an essential property of the interfaces of natural language grammar. We attempt to provide detailed studies of exemplary phenomena
to see whether the analytic tools developed for handling them in one module of grammar are transferable to other modules, and to work on an integrated approach within a constraint-based grammar framework.