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On the Nature of Reverse Compositionality

Kent Johnson
Erkenntnis (1975-)
Vol. 64, No. 1 (Jan., 2006), pp. 37-60
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20013378
Page Count: 24
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Abstract

Reverse Compositionality (RC) is the thesis that one understands a complex expression only if one understands its parts. I argue that this thesis is false for natural languages. I then argue that the phenomenon that motivates the thesis is more likely to be a fact about human sentence-processing than linguistic understanding per se. Finally, I argue that RC is not useful in the debates about prototype-style theories of concepts in which it figures heavily.

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