Henk J. Verkuyl

in The Oxford Handbook of Tense and Aspect

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195381979
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks


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  • Linguistics
  • Semantics
  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology



Compositionality concerns the computation of complex meanings at higher levels of structure on the basis of atomic meanings. This article is based on the conviction that complex meaning of phrase structure should be approached on the basis of the principle of compositionality, and considers two temporal domains—tense and aspect—in which linguists have a choice between a compositional and non-compositional approach. It shows that H. Reichenbach's (1947) tense system suffers from not being compositional and argues that a strictly compositional approach to Slavic aspectuality produces better results than competing non-compositional approaches advocated by most scholars of Slavic languages, mostly on the basis of informal semantics. The article also discusses L. A. te Winkel's binary system, compositionality in Russian language, terminative imperfectivity, and durative perfectivity.

Keywords: compositionality; tense; aspect; H. Reichenbach; te Winkel; Russian language; terminative imperfectivity; durative perfectivity; Slavic languages

Article.  10521 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Semantics ; Grammar, Syntax and Morphology

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