The Structure of Semantic Competence: Compositionality as an Innate Constraint of The Faculty of Language

Mind and Language 30 (4):375–413 (2015)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
This paper defends the view that the Faculty of Language is compositional, i.e., that it computes the meaning of complex expressions from the meanings of their immediate constituents and their structure. I fargue that compositionality and other competing constraints on the way in which the Faculty of Language computes the meanings of complex expressions should be understood as hypotheses about innate constraints of the Faculty of Language. I then argue that, unlike compositionality, most of the currently available non-compositional constraints predict incorrect patterns of early linguistic development. This supports the view that the Faculty of Language is com- positional. More generally, this paper presents a way of framing the compositionality debate (by focusing on its implications for language acquisition) that can lead to its even- tual resolution, so it will hopefully also interest theorists who disagree with its main conclusion.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
Archival date: 2015-07-20
View other versions
Added to PP index

Total views
739 ( #6,285 of 58,427 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
47 ( #16,508 of 58,427 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.