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  • LEXICAL REPRESENTATION WITHIN THE LEXICALCONSTRUCTIONAL MODEL: AN ANALYSIS OF VERBS OF

    HAPPINESS AND HAPPENING

    ROCO JIMNEZ BRIONESUniversidad Autnoma de Madrid

    M BEATRIZ PREZ CABELLO DE ALBA*

    Universidad Nacional de Educacin a Distancia

    ABSTRACT. This paper will look at how lexical templates can be designed for therepresentation of the lexico-semantic, syntactic and pragmatic properties of the Englishverbs of happiness and happening within the Lexical Constructional Model (MairalUsn & Ruiz de Mendoza 2006; Ruiz de Mendoza & Mairal Usn 2007, 2008). Alexical template is a formal meta-entry which in just one format unifies all thegrammatically, semantically and pragmatically salient features relevant to a particularverbal class. In this work, we will illustrate how, by combining a number of semanticprimitives (Wierzbicka 1996), lexical functions (Melcuk 1989) and Aktionsartdistinctions (Van Valin 2005), a fine-grained description of the rich semantic andsyntactic subtleties of these two sub-domains can be provided.

    KEYWORDS: Lexical template, the Lexical Constructional Model, verbs of happiness, verbs of happening.

    RESUMEN. En este artculo se analiza el diseo de las plantillas lxicas pro-puestas en el Modelo Lxico-Construccional (Mairal Usn & Ruiz de Mendoza 2006;Ruiz de Mendoza & Mairal Usn 2007, 2008) como sistemas de representacin de laspropiedades lxicas, semnticas y sintcticas de los verbos ingleses que expresan feli-cidad y existencia. Una plantilla lxica es una meta-entrada que en una nica expre-sin codifica los rasgos sintcticos, semnticos y pragmticos relevantes para toda unaclase verbal. En este trabajo presentamos cmo, mediante la combinacin de primiti-vos semnticos (Wierzbicka 1996), funciones lxicas (Melcuk 1989) y distinciones deAktionsart (Van Valin 2005), se puede conseguir una descripcin detallada de las pro-piedades sintctico-semnticas de las dos sub-clases analizadas.

    PALABRAS CLAVE: Plantilla lxica, el Modelo Lxico-Construccional, verbos ingleses de felicidad, verbos ingle-ses de existencia

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    RESLA 21 (2008), 129-146

  • 1. INTRODUCTION

    This paper aims to present the process of elaboration of lexical templates for theEnglish verbs of happiness and happening within the Lexical Constructional Model(henceforth LCM; Mairal Usn & Ruiz de Mendoza 2006; Mairal Usn & Faber 2007;Ruiz de Mendoza & Mairal Usn 2007, 2008)1. It will be shown how, by means ofsemantic primitives (Wierzbicka 1999; Goddard & Wierzbicka 2002, 2005, 2007),lexical functions (Melcuk 1989; Alonso Ramos 2002) and Aktionsart distinctions (VanValin 2005), this way of lexico-semantic representation is able to account for thepragmatic, semantic and syntactic information of the two verbal classes under analysis.

    The rest of the paper is structured as follows: section 2 gives a brief overview ofthe general architecture of the LCM (2.1), followed by an exposition of the notion oflexical template (2.2). In section 3 we deal with a case study where we put forward thelexical templates for the English verbs of happiness (3.1) and happening (3.2). Section4 provides the conclusion.

    2. LEXICAL TEMPLATES WITHIN THE LEXICAL CONSTRUCTIONAL MODEL

    2.1. Brief outline of the Lexical Constructional Model2

    The LCM was conceived in order to account for the relationship between syntaxand all facets of meaning construction, including traditional implicature, illocutionarymeaning and discourse coherence. It is made of four different levels. At level 1, or coremodule, we find the notions of lexical template (henceforth LT) and constructionaltemplate (henceforth CT), which are elements of syntactically relevant semanticinterpretation. Level 2 is a pragmatic module that focuses on low-level inferentialaspects of linguistic communication. Level 3 deals with high-level inferences (i.e.illocutionary force). Finally, level 4 includes the discourse aspects of the LCM,especially cohesion and coherence phenomena. Each level is either subsumed into ahigher-level constructional configuration or acts as a cue for the activation of a relevantconceptual structure (CS) that yields an implicit meaning derivation. Interpretive activityat all levels is regulated by a number of cognitive constraints. Figure 1 belowschematizes the general architecture of the model.

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  • Figure 1. The overall architecture of the Lexical Constructional Model(Ruiz de Mendoza & Mairal Usn 2008).

    LEXICAL REPRESENTATION WITHIN THE LEXICAL CONSTRUCTIONAL MODEL: AN ANALYSIS...

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  • This paper is only concerned with Level 1, especifically with the elaboration oftemplates for the predicates within a verbal class. For a detailed account of the otherlevels of the LCM included in Figure 1, we refer the interested reader to the researchcarried out by Ruiz de Mendoza and Mairal Usn mentioned in section 5, as well as thepapers included on the website of the LEXICOM project (cf. note 2).

    2.2. The design of lexical templates

    A lexical template is a formal meta-entry which in just one format unifies all thegrammatically salient features, as well as the semantic and pragmatic ones, relevant to aparticular verbal class. As Mairal Usn and Faber (2007: 138) put it, a lexical templateis a formal representation of a lexical unit and the world-knowledge elements whichaffect its syntactic representation. Therefore, a LT consists of the three modules orcomponents illustrated in (1):

    (1) [semantic representation] + [syntactic representation]

    The semantic component represents the meaning of a predicate through thecombination of semantic primes and lexical functions. The former correspond to thesuperordinate predicates identified by the Functional Lexematic Model (FLM; MartnMingorance 1998; Faber & Mairal Usn 1999), which has also been partially integratedin the LCM, especially those issues dealing with the paradigmatic and syntagmaticorganization of the English and Spanish verbal lexicons into semantic classes or lexicaldomains. Table 1 shows the domains identified by the FLM and their correspondingnuclear terms.

    Lexical domain Nuclear term

    EXISTENCE be/happen

    CHANGE become

    POSSESSION have

    SPEECH say

    EMOTION feel

    ACTION do, make

    COGNITION know, think

    MOVEMENT move (go/come)

    PHYSICAL PERCEPTION see / hear / taste / smell / touch

    MANIPULATION use

    Table 1. Lexical domains and nuclear terms in the FLM (Mairal Usn & Faber 2007: 147).

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  • It is worth noticing that these nuclear terms coincide, to a great extent, withWierzbickas inventory of primitives identified in the Natural Semantic Metalanguageframework (NSM; Wierzbicka 1996, 1999; Goddard & Wierzbicka 2002, 2005, 2007),which has been shown to be valid for over a hundred languages and which are alsoemployed in the LCM when necessary. Table 2 groups the NSM primes which have sofar been identified for English and Spanish:

    Grammatical NSM Semantic Primes Spanish exponentscategorySubstantives I, YOU, SOMEONE/PERSON, PEOPLE, YO, T, ALGUIEN/PERSONA, GENTE,

    SOMETHING/THING, BODY ALGO/COSA, CUERPO

    Determiners THIS, THE SAME, OTHER/ELSE ESTO, LO MISMO, OTRO

    Quantifiers ONE, TWO, SOME, ALL, MANY/MUCH UNO, DOS, ALGUNOS, TODO, MUCHO

    Evaluators GOOD, BAD BUENO, MALO

    Descriptors BIG, SMALL GRANDE, PEQUEO

    Augmentor, VERY, MORE MUY, MSIntensifier

    Mental THINK, KNOW, WANT, FEEL, SEE, PENSAR, SABER, QUERER, SENTIR,predicates HEAR VER, OR

    Speech SAY, WORDS, TRUE DECIR, PALABRAS, VERDAD

    Actions, events, DO, HAPPEN, MOVE, TOUCH HACER, PASAR, MOVERSE, TOCARmovement,contact

    Location, BE (SOMEWHERE), THERE IS/EXIST, ESTAR, HAY, TENER, SERexistence, HAVE, BEpossession,specification

    Life and death LIVE, DIE VIVIR, MORIR

    Time WHEN/TIME, NOW, BEFORE, AFTER, CUNDO/TIEMPO, AHORA, ANTES,A LONG TIME, A SHORT TIME, FOR DESPUS, MUCHO TIEMPO, POCOSOME TIME, MOMENT TIEMPO, POR UN TIEMPO, MOMENTO

    Space WHERE/PLACE, HERE, ABOVE, DNDE/SITIO, AQU, ARRIBA, DEBAJOBELOW; FAR, NEAR; SIDE, INSIDE CERCA, LEJOS, LADO, DENTRO

    Logical NOT, MAYBE, CAN, BECAUSE, IF NO, TAL VEZ, PODER, PORQUE, SIconcepts

    Relational KIND, PART TIPO, PARTEsubstantives

    Similarity LIKE COMO

    Table 2. NSM primes (Goddard & Wierzbicka 2005).

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  • These primes are combined with the lexical functions or operators proposed byMelcuk (1989) and his colleagues (Alonso 2002) within Meaning and Text Theory(MTT). Lexical functions, however, are used paradigmatically in the LCM todifferentiate one predicate from others within the same domain. Unlike in MTT, lexicalfunctions are not employed syntagmatically to account for collocations:

    (2) Magn (contrast) = sharp; vivid (Melcuk 1989: 75)

    The meaning associated to an MTT lexical function is abstract and general, so thatit can yield different values. As illustrated in (2), the function Magn, which expressesintensification, is applied to the argument contrast, yielding a number of values, namely,the same collocations sharp contrast or vivid contrast. Besides, the LCM hasincorporated new functions to account for the lexico-semantic characteristics of theverbs under study, as presented in Table 3. Accordingly, the MTT lexical functions areconsidered semantic functions within the LCM framework.

    Semantic Function

    DefinitionMTT Lexical Functions (with their

    application adapted toparadigmatic structure)

    MAGN Intense(ly), very [intensifier], to a very high degree

    PLUS More

    SYMPT Physical symptoms

    Additional LCM seman