Direct Compositionality

Pauline Jacobson

in The Oxford Handbook of Compositionality

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199541072
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Direct Compositionality

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This article discusses the hypothesis of direct compositionality (DC), which is the hypothesis that the syntax and the semantics work “in tandem”. The syntax builds expressions and the semantics works to assign meanings to the representations as they are built in the syntax. DC entails that there are no syntactic expressions of any sort, which do not have a meaning. The first argument for DC is that any theory needs a compositional syntax—that is, a recursive rule system which proves the well-formedness of expressions, often proving the well-formedness of larger output expressions based on the well-formedness of smaller ones. Second, if meanings are computed on representations, which are the output of the syntactic computation, then there is a certain amount of duplication of information. Those representations need to be referred to twice. A third argument in favour of DC architecture concerns the locality of the rules for the compositional semantics.

Keywords: direct compositionality; syntax; semantics; syntactic expressions; compositional syntax

Article.  11746 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Semantics

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