Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 16 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The principle of compositionality (PC) states that the meaning of a complex expression is a function of the lexical meanings of its components and the syntactic structure of the whole. PC is usually considered necessary for explaining the apparent ability of human language users to interpret arbitrary regular complex expressions efficiently and uniformly. The meaning of a syntactically regular expression derives from the meanings of its components in a regular way. Any given lexical expression is not just of a certain type, but belongs to hierarchies of types in the sense of Carpenter. The possible types form a semi-lattice ordered by the partial ordering relation of subsumption. The most specific, or minimal, type consists of solely an individual lexical expression. The most general type comprises all lexical expressions indiscriminately.

Keywords: principle of compositionality, complex expression, syntactic structure, human language, lexical expression

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.