This might only apply to LFG, but are there any tests for if a word is functional or content/lexical?

I have been trying to ascertain whether or not there is a lexical 'be' in English. The active 'be' in sentences like 'don't be silly' may only be adding an 'active' feature to the content word, similar to morpheme -ing. It seems to be a copula, though maybe a lexical copula like 'act' - 'don't act silly'.

  • In LFG, content words have a PRED attribute. Copulae are taken to be function words in modern LFG because they have no PRED. In "don't be silly" the adjective is the only predicator. – Atamiri Oct 17 '17 at 0:07
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    Does that mean copulae in sentences like 'you seem cold' also have no PRED attribute? I was thinking that since only a handful of lexical copulae exist it might be possible to assign their meanings as functional attributes. Is there any way of actually testing whether a word has a PRED attribute? – dylbro Oct 17 '17 at 2:04
  • How semi-copulae (pseudo-copulae) are analysed depends on the underlying theory. Some regard them as complex predicates (Alsina, Manning). On this view, they indeed have a PRED attribute but it's generic and needs to be unified with that of the main verb. In the end, it's language specific, but they definitely have a PRED. In general, whether a word has a PRED attribute depends on its semantics, there's no general rule for deciding that. – Atamiri Oct 17 '17 at 2:21

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