Compositionality and Beyond: Embodied Meaning in Language and Protolanguage

Michael A. Arbib

in The Oxford Handbook of Compositionality

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Compositionality and Beyond: Embodied Meaning in Language and Protolanguage


This article mentions that a formal view of compositional semantics is helpful both for what it reveals about the structure of language and also for what it deletes, including context, the use of compositionality to index rather than define meaning, and the role of idioms. It also discusses how Construction Grammar (CG) allows one to incorporate idioms into a framework in which compositionality may sometimes use familiar sequences of words as atoms when the meanings of single words do not themselves contribute to the meaning of the whole. Schema Theory shows what is meant by embodied meaning, and the way it is embedded in social experience. Linguists working within CG, with its close relations to Cognitive Grammar, have teased out the rule-governed and productive linguistic behaviors specific to each family of constructions.

Keywords: Schema Theory; compositionality; compositional semantics; linguistic behaviors

Article.  8260 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Semantics ; Language Evolution

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