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: 14 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This article presents three more-or-less-traditional considerations for compositionality. The first is that the usual statement of the compositionality principle is massively ambiguous. One of the eight available readings rules out all sources of multiplicity in meaning in complex expressions besides the lexicon and the syntax. Others are more permissive—how much more is not always clear. The second claim is that traditional considerations in favour of compositionality are less powerful than is often assumed. Compositionality is best construed as an empirical hypothesis on meanings expressed in natural languages. Finally, the third claim is that, even if compositionality is true, most of the debates in philosophy, linguistics, and psychology surrounding compositionality will remain open. These debates tend to be about significantly stronger theses.

Keywords: compositionality principle, syntax, lexicon, linguistics, philosophy

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.