Lexical Freedom and Large Categories

Abstract

Grammatical categories of English expressions are shown to differ with regard to the freedom we have in semantically interpreting their lexical (= syntactically simplest) expressions. Section 1 reviews the categories of expression we consider. Section 2 empirically supports that certain of these categories are lexically free, a notion we formally define, in the sense that anything which is denotable by a complex expression in the category is available as a denotation for lexical expressions in the category. Other categories are shown to be not lexically free. Thus for those categories the interpretation of lexical expressions is inherently constrained compared to the interpretation of the full class of expressions in the category.

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