Inheritance and complementation : a case study of easy adjectives and related nouns


Mechanisms for representing lexically the bulk of syntactic and semantic information for a language have been under active development, as is evident in the recent studies contained in this volume. Our study serves to highlight some of the most useful tools available for structured lexical representation, in particular, (multiple) inheritance, default specification, and lexical rules. It then illustrates the value of these mechanisms in illuminating one corner of the lexicon involving an unusual kind of complementation among a group of adjectives exemplified by easy. The virtures of the structured lexicon are its succinctness and its tendency to highlight significant clusters of linguistic properties. From its succinctness follow two practical advantages, namely its ease of maintenance and modifiability. In order to suggest how important these may be practically, we extend the analysis of adjectival complementation in several directions. These further illustrate how the use of inheritance in lexical representation permits exact and explicit characterizations of phenomena in the language under study. We demonstrate how the use of the mechanisms employed in the analysis of easy enable us to give a unified account of related phenomena featuring nouns like pleasure, and even the adverbs (adjectival specifiers) too and enough. Along the way we motivate some elaborations of the Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG) framework in which we couch our analysis, and offer several avenues for further study of this part of the English lexicon

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