Nominals, Polysemy, and Co-predication

Volume 12
Issue 1
Elisabetta Ježek & Chiara Melloni
In this paper, we examine the event/result meaning contrast displayed by Italian nominals derived from creation and redescription verbs, such as costruzione ‘construction, building’ and traduzione ‘translation.’ The goal of our research is twofold. First, we intend to verify whether the intriguing pattern of polysemy exhibited by these nominals may be analyzed as a special case of complex type, with the two constituents of the type analyzed as process and result-state, as proposed in Pustejovsky (1995). Second, we want to clarify what factors might be causing the difficulty in co-predication (i.e. simultaneous access to both subtypes, commonly regarded as the test for complex types) that these nominal typically exhibit. Results of this study can be summarized as follows: the result-state interpretation (i.e. construction as ‘the state of being constructed’) appears not to be generally accessible to these nominals, and copredication appears to be licensed only under specific syntactic and semantic conditions. We claim that both behaviors follow from the inherent properties of the event associated with these nominals, which encodes a peculiar temporal relation between the subevents. Based on this insight, we propose a revised modelling of the lexical representation of creation and redescription complex nominals within Generative Lexicon (GL) theory, informed by empirical evidence. The results of our study help to provide a better understanding of the phenomenon of lexical polysemy and the interplay between aspectual and lexical properties of Action Nominals.

Key words: Nominals, Polysemy, Complex Types, Event Structure, Qualia Structure, Co-predication