Publication details [#8393]

Nunberg, Geoffrey and Annie Zaenen. 1997. La polysémie systématique dans la description lexicale. Lacus Forum 113 : 12–23. 12 pp.
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The phenomenon of systematic polysemy offers a fruitful domain for examining the theoretical differences between lexicological and lexicographic approaches to description. We consider here the process that provides for systematic conversion of count to mass nouns in English (a chicken/chicken, an oak/oak etc.). From the point of view of lexicology, we argue, standard syntactic and pragmatic tests suggest the phenomenon should be described by means of a single unindividuated transfer function that does not distinguish between interpretations (rabbit = "meat" vs. "fur"). From the point of view of lexicography, however, these more precise interpretations are made part of explicit description via the inclusion of semantic "licences", a mechanism distinct from lexical rules. (Geoffrey Nunberg and Annie Zaenen)