Mediating relations and the semantics of noun incorporation
Andrew Mckenzie
January 2018

Noun incorporation is commonly thought to avoid the weak compositionality of compounds because it involves conjunction of an argument noun with the incorporating verb. However, it is weakly compositional in two ways. First, the noun’s entity argument needs to be bound or saturated, but previous accounts fail to adequately ensure that it is. Second, non-arguments are often incorporated in many languages, and their thematic role is available for contextual selection. We show that these two weaknesses are actually linked. We examine two languages, Kiowa and English, which generally bar objects from incorporation but allow non-arguments. We show that a mediating relation is required to link the noun to the verb. Absent a relation, the noun’s entity argument is not saturated, and the entire expression is uninterpretable. Objects in these languages are routinely allowed to incorporate in exceptional environments that independently a mediating relation. We close by beginning to apply this approach to languages that do routinely incorporate objects, and demon- strate that even object incorporation is more complicated in the semantics than mere conjunction.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003860
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: under review
keywords: incorporation, compositionality, synthetic compounds, intensionality, kiowa, semantics, syntax
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