Josh Dever

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Language

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780199552238
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191577451 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy


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The question of whether natural languages have compositional semantics continues to attract considerable interest, as do questions about the reasons for wanting compositionality, the consequences of compositionality, and the very formulation of the principle of compositionality. This article begins by developing a precise definition of compositionality. In this article some technical consequences of that definition are explored. The article then examines two compositionally problematic semantic phenomena, and proposes compositional treatments thereof. The last section closes by asking why one might want a compositional meaning theory, and attempting to explain the philosophical significance of compositionality.

Keywords: compositional semantics; natural language; compositionality; problematic semantic; meaning theory; compositional treatments

Article.  14977 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language ; Philosophy of Mind

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