Lexical transformation

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Lexical transformation is a device originally proposed by Roeper & Siegel (1978) to account for the derivation of synthetic compounds such as truck driver, fast-acting and pan-fried out of the underlying lexical representations drive a truck, act fast and fry in a pan. Given the Lexicalist Hypothesis, this transformation must be lexical, since it alters the categorial features of the input. Roeper & Siegel's account involves three operations, two of which have transformational power. First, they propose the Affix Rule which adds a suffix to a verbal stem, and simultaneously creates a lexically unspecified structural position to the left of the verb. This lexical transformation is the basic mechanism in Roeper & Siegel's account and it changes representation (i) into (ii). The next step is Subcategorization Insertion, which inserts a word into the subcategorization slot (cf. iii), and the final step is the Compound Rule, which moves the inserted word into the lexically unspecified slot created by the Affix Rule (cf. iv):

(i)   drive [..]NP			   =>  (= Affix Rule)
 (ii)  [[..] + drive + -er]N [..]NP	   =>  (= Subcategorization Insertion)
 (iii) [[..] + drive + -er]N [a truck]NP    =>  (= Compound Rule)
 (iv)  [[truck]N + drive + -er]N


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Roeper, T. and D. Siegel 1978. A Lexical Transformation for Verbal Compounds, Linguistic Inquiry 9, pp. 199-260