Lexicography is often considered orthogonal to theoretical linguistics. In this paper, we show that this is a highly misguided view. As in other sciences, a careful and large-scale empirical investigation is a necessary step for testing, improving and expanding a theoretical framework. We present results from the development of the Italian semantic lexicon in the framework of the Simple project, which implements major aspects of Generative Lexicon theory. This paper focuses on the semantic properties of abstract nouns as they are conceptually more dicult to describe. For this reason, they are a good testbed for any semantic theory. The methodology - which has been developed to satisfy the requirements of building large lexicons - is more than a simple interface or a lexicographer auxiliary tool. Rather, it reveals how a real implementation greatly contributes to the underlying theory.
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