Malvina Nissim Andrea Zaninello

A quantitative study on the morphology of Italian multiword expressions

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Internal morphological rigidity of multiword expressions (MWEs) is a highly debated topic in linguistic studies, although observations are usually qualitative, and rarely supported by actual data specifically extracted with this aim and on this issue. We report on corpus-based experiments on Italian nominal MWEs, with the purpose of determining degrees of internal fi xedness numerically. We observe that MWEs lie on a variability continuum (both across and within morphosyntactic configurations) and we suggest measures to quantify this scale. However, lexico-semantic and morphosyntactic factors do not contribute equally to the definition of MWE-hood and nominal expressions rather seem to be biased towards the former. We conclude that, also in the perspective of extraction tasks, semantic generalisations must necessarily come into play.


  • multiword expressions
  • fi xedness
  • corpus
  • Italian
  • morphology


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