Lexical reciprocity, logical symmetry, and protopredicates

Yoad Winter (Utrecht)


This talk introduces a new generalization about lexical reciprocal predicates like "hug", "marry", "collaborate (with)" and "fall in love (with)". Binary entries are shown to support an equivalence with their reciprocal form if and only if they are logically symmetric (for example: "marry", "collaborate (with)"). This contrasts with binary predicates like "be in love with" and "hug", which are non-symmetric and non-equivalent to their reciprocal parallels. This generalization is explained by a new formal theory of lexical reciprocity, which builds on Dowty’s notion of protoroles. What I call "protopredicate" (an arity-less abstract predicate) is used for deriving binary and collective predicate meanings in reciprocal alternations. Further, I'll introduce some recent experimental results that support the idea that lexical reciprocity often reflects typicality preferences, rather than logical requirements, of *collective concepts* - lexical concepts that hold of collections, and are connected directly to protopredicates in the mental lexicon.