Multiple coordination: Meaning composition vs. the syntax-semantics interface

This paper argues that multiple coordinations like tall, thin and happy are interpreted in a “flat” iterative process, but using “nested” recursive application of binary coordination operators in the compositional meaning derivation. Ample motivation for flat interpretation is shown by contrasting such coordinations with nested, syntactically ambiguous, coordinate structures like tall and thin and happy. However, new evidence coming from type shifting and predicate distribution with verb phrases show motivation for an independent hierarchical ingredient in the compositional semantics of multiple coordination with no parallel hierarchy in the syntax. This establishes a contrast between operations at the syntax-semantics interface and compositional semantic mechanisms. At the same time, such evidence motivate the treatment of operations like type shifting and distributivity as purely semantic.
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