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Representing argument structure 1



Existing approaches to the representation of argument structure in grammar tend to focus either on semantics or on syntax. Our goal in this paper is to strike the right balance between the two levels by proposing an analysis that maintains the independence of the syntactic and semantic aspects of argument structure, and, at the same time, captures the interplay between the two levels. Our proposal is set in the context of the development of a large-scale grammar of Modern Hebrew within the framework of Head-driven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG). Consequently, an additional challenge it faces is to reconcile two conflicting desiderata: to be both linguistically coherent and realistic in terms of the grammar engineering effort. We present a novel representation of argument structure that is fully implemented in HPSG, and demonstrate its many benefits to the coherence of our Hebrew grammar. We also highlight the additional dimensions of linguistic generalization that our proposal provides, which we believe are also applicable to grammars of other languages.


Corresponding author

Author’s address: University of Haifa, Israel
Author’s address: The Open University, Israel
Author’s address: University of Haifa, Israel


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This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant no 505/11). We are indebted to Petter Haugereid for his contribution to this project in its earlier stages, and to Tali Arad Greshler and Adam Przepiórkowski for their help and advice with previous drafts of this paper. We are grateful to the Journal of Linguistics anonymous reviewers for many helpful and constructive comments. All remaining errors and misconceptions are, of course, our own.

This paper is dedicated to the memory of Chuck Fillmore (1929–2014) and Ivan Sag (1949–2013).

Abbreviations used in this paper for agreement are 1/2/3 = person; s/p = number; f/m = gender. In addition acc = accusative case.



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