The aim of this paper is to account for the premises that lie behind the design of the
lexical templates employed within the Lexical Constructional Model (LCM henceforth). The
LCM is a linguistic proposal concerned with the relationship between syntax and all facets of
meaning construction that bases its descriptions on the principled interaction between lexical
and constructional templates (Ruiz de Mendoza and Mairal 2008; Mairal and Ruiz de
Mendoza 2009). Since the central or core meaning layer for other more peripheral operations
is based on the fusion process of these two types of templates, lexical templates (LTs) turn
out to be one of the building blocks of the model.
A LT is a meta-entry that codifies not only grammatically salient features but also
semantic, register and pragmatic parameters relevant for a verbal predicate. Its starting point
is the logical structures employed by Role and Reference Grammar (RRG; Van Valin &
LaPolla 1997; Van Valin 2005), as well as the semantic frames used within FrameNet
However, unlike the former but inspired by the latter,
templates incorporate an enriched semantic component of world-knowledge elements which
crucially relate to the verb defined by the LT. Below are the RRG and the LCM lexical
representations of two English verbs of possession:
(1) a. receive: BECOME have’ (x,y)
b. gain: [PLUSCONTtime & INSTR1effort & 2 = good][BECOME have’ (x,y)],
where x =1, y =2
As (1b) illustrates, apart from the syntactically salient aspects of the meaning of a
verb, constructed in terms of the RRG Aktionsart distinctions in (1a), a LT also codifies
world-knowledge elements – cf. the time and means parameters. This is captured by
combining a number of semantic primitives like time, good and have (Wierzbicka 1996) and
lexical functions such as INSTR, PLUS or CONT (Mel’cuk 1989), since, for a thorough
characterization of gain, it is not enough to indicate the existence of the possessor and the
possessed entity, but it is necessary to point out in what way both interrelate or if the
possessed entity displays specific selection restrictions, i.e., what is gained must be
something beneficial (i.e. 2 = good). Furthermore, the format of the LT allows us to
characterize other possession predicates that belong to the same English or Spanish semantic
class in a non-redundant, straightforward way by modifying the semantic description of the
LT and/or including register features:
(2) a. get: [BECAUSE1dosomethingbefore] [BECOME have’ (x,y)], where x =1
b. obtain: [get & BECAUSE1do/thinksomething]
c. procure: <fml> [obtain & 2 = difficult]
(3) a. recibir: BECOME tener’ (x,y)
b. ganar: [INSTR1esfuerzo&trabajo] [BECOME tener’ (x,y)], where x =1
c. conseguir: [2 = deseado] [BECOME tener’ (x,y)], where y =2
Fillmore, C., C. Johnson, and M. Petruck. 2003. “Background to FrameNet.” International
Journal of Lexicography 16(3): 235-250.
Mairal R. and F. J Ruiz de Mendoza. 2009. "Levels of description and explanation in
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Mel’cuk, I. 1989. “Semantic primitives from the viewpoint of the Meaning-Text Linguistic
Theory.” Quaderni di Semantica 10 (1): 65–102.
Ruiz de Mendoza, F. J. and R. Mairal. 2008. "Levels of description and constraining factors
in meaning construction: An introduction to the Lexical Constructional Model." Folia
Van Valin, R. D., Jr. 2005. Exploring the Syntax-Semantics Interface. Cambridge: Cambridge
Van Valin, R. D., Jr. and R. LaPolla. 1997. Syntax: Structure, Meaning and Function.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wierzbicka, A. 1996. Semantics: Primes and Universals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.