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LFG Proceedings
CSLI Publications

Economy of Expression

Mary Dalrymple, Ronald M. Kaplan, and Tracy Holloway King


LFG grammars, particularly those that are characterized by a collection of metagrammatical principles, can produce well-formed constituent structure trees that contain, in some sense, superfluous structure. These characterizations then often include a principle of Economy to choose the smallest or most economical c-structure(s) for expression of a particular meaning, without violating certain central grammatical principles. However, there has been a lack of agreement in the literature about how these principles work and what the result of their application should be. We present a formal framework within which explicit definitions of these principles can be made, and discuss some phenomena for which Economy has been claimed to be relevant. For some cases, we claim that the differences among the candidate possibilities are inessential, and the effect of the Economy principle is only cosmetic. In other cases, Economy makes clear empirical predictions which we will discuss and evaluate.

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