The Dual-Mechanism Debate

Martina Penke

in The Oxford Handbook of Compositionality

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

The Dual-Mechanism Debate


The symbolic view of cognitive processing assumes that complex word forms are structurally composed out of component parts by application of a mental rule that combines components displaying the right abstract features. An anti-symbolic view is, in contrast, expressed in connectionism, a branch of the cognitive sciences where human behavior is simulated in artificial network models. Based on modeling data, such connectionist approaches deny that regular inflection is based on a compositional mental operation which combines a verbal stem and an affix. Instead, regular and irregular inflected forms are stored just as simple words in an associative network structure. Hence, in representation and processing, inflected forms are structurally non-compositional. The potential interfering factors are controlled for, since regular and irregular inflected forms share important properties: they comprise only a word, have the same categorical status in grammar, and realize the same morphosyntactic features.

Keywords: cognitive processing; cognitive sciences; human behavior; artificial network models; regular inflection

Article.  10245 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Semantics

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