Compositionality I: Definitions and Variants

Philosophy Compass 5 (3):250-264 (2010)
This is the first part of a two-part article on semantic compositionality, that is, the principle that the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meanings of its parts and the way they are put together. Here we provide a brief historical background, a formal framework for syntax and semantics, precise definitions, and a survey of variants of compositionality. Stronger and weaker forms are distinguished, as well as generalized forms that cover extra-linguistic context dependence as well as linguistic context dependence. In the second article, we survey arguments for and arguments against the claim that natural languages are compositional, and consider some problem cases. It will be referred to as Part II.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2009.00228.x
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