Coercion by modification The adaptive capacities of event-sensitive adnominal modifiers

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Sebastian Buecking
Claudia Maienborn


This paper is about coercive meaning adaptions as triggered by modifiers. It pursues two objectives. First, we argue that coercion by modification is rooted in the linguistic system. More specifically, given a pending type-conflict between a modifier and its target, fine-grained lexical typing information is shown to both license and constrain adaptive options. Notably, such a dynamic lexical semantics integrates conceptual knowledge resources into rigid compositional mechanisms without giving up their principled distinction. Second, we reconcile coercion by modification with the standard conception of modification as a type-preserving operation. However, we also argue that the coercion facts cannot be handled within rule-based approaches to modification. The merits of the proposed dynamic approach to lexical semantics are exemplified by a detailed investigation of the subtly differing coercive potentials of event-sensitive adjectives such as schnell ‘quick’, flink ‘nimble’, and rasch ‘rapid’ in German. It is spelled out in terms of Asher’s (2011) Type Composition Logic.


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