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Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy.
2011 (English)In: Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning / [ed] Klaus von Heusinger, Claudia Maienborn, Paul Portner, Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2011, 2, 96-123 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This article is concerned with the principle of compositionality, i.e. the principle that the meaning of a complex expression is a function of the meanings of its parts and its mode of composition. After a brief historical background, a formal algebraic framework for syntax and semantics is presented. In this framework, both syntactic operations and semantic functions are (normally) partial. Using 20 the framework, the basic idea of compositionality is given a precise statement, and several variants, both weaker and stronger, as well as related properties, are distinguished. Several arguments for compositionality are discussed, and the standard arguments are found inconclusive. Also, several arguments against compositionality, and for the claim that it is a trivial property, are discussed, 25 and are found to be flawed. Finally, a number of real or apparent problems for compositionality are considered, and some solutions are proposed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2011, 2. 96-123 p.
, Handbooks of Linguistics and Communication Science, ISSN 1861-5090 ; 33/1
Keyword [en]
compositionality, semantics, syntax
National Category
Research subject
Theoretical Philosophy
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-68421ISBN: 978-3-11-022661-4OAI: diva2:472347
Available from: 2013-01-08 Created: 2012-01-03 Last updated: 2013-04-29Bibliographically approved

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