The emergence of syntactic structure

Linguistics and Philosophy 30 (1):47 - 95 (2007)
Abstract
The present paper is the result of a long struggle to understand how the notion of compositionality can be used to motivate the structure of a sentence. While everyone seems to have intuitions about which proposals are compositional and which ones are not, these intuitions generally have no formal basis. What is needed to make such arguments work is a proper understanding of what meanings are and how they can be manipulated. In particular, we need a definition of meaning that bans all mentioning of syntactic structure; it is not the task of semantics to state in which way things are put together in syntax. The present paper presents such a theory of meaning. This, in tandem with some minimal assumptions on the syntactic process (that there can be no deletion) yield surprisingly deep insights into natural language. First, it rehabilitates a lot of linguistic work as necessary on semantic grounds and defends it against potential claims of redundancy. For example, θ-roles and linking are an integral part of semantics, and not syntax. To assume the latter is to put the cart before the horse. Second, as a particular example we shall show that Dutch is not strongly context free even if weakly context free. To our knowledge, this is the first formal proof of this fact.
Keywords Compositionality  Syntax  Semantics
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DOI 10.1007/s10988-006-9011-5
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References found in this work BETA
From Discourse to Logic.Hans Kamp & Uwe Reyle - 1993 - Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Neutral Relations.Kit Fine - 2000 - Philosophical Review 109 (1):1-33.
Word Meaning and Montague Grammar.David R. Dowty - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (2):290-295.

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Citations of this work BETA
Compositionality I: Definitions and Variants.Peter Pagin - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (3):250-264.
Are Logical Languages Compositional?Marcus Kracht - 2013 - Studia Logica 101 (6):1319-1340.
Comments on Hornstein.Klaus Abels - 2013 - Mind and Language 28 (4):421-429.
Semantic Vector Models and Functional Models for Pregroup Grammars.Anne Preller & Mehrnoosh Sadrzadeh - 2011 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 20 (4):419-443.

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