Coordinate Structures - Constraint-Based Syntax-Semantics Processing
This dissertation examines the structure and the meaning of coordination structures. In the realm of syntax, it is often assumed that coordination structures come in different flavors and that they are the locus of various kinds of structural asymmetries and irregularities. This dissertation argues that many of these views are not well motivated empirically, and offers novel empirical observations that suggest a more systematic view. With regard to semantics, it is standardly assumed that there are many different kinds of conjunction meanings – some of which are arbitrarily ambiguous – and that they have different syntactic distributions. Standard accounts usually resort to complex covert machinery in order to account for various special cases of semantic interpretation which are observed. A more uniform semantic account is proposed in this dissertation. New evidence is provided to show that the standard distinction between Boolean and Non- Boolean conjunction is most problematic, and that cross-categorial conjunction can be viewed as a unique kind of conjunction, without exceptions for the nominal domain. It is argued that pluralic NPs (including plural NPs and conjoined NP structures) are not ambiguous in any way, and that distributive, collective and cumulative readings are best modeled via the lexical semantics of predicates that subcategorize for these arguments. A unique coordination construction and a unique semantic composition process are argued to account for a wide range of coordination phenomena, including conjunction and disjunction, without higher-order operations nor appeal to massive semantic ambiguity. Various recalcitrant phenomena that occur in the presence of coordination are predicted by the theory, via independently motivated ellipsis phenomena and via processing constraints. The result is a leaner theory of the syntax-semantics interface for coordination in which coordinate structures interact in a uniform way with other constructions.