[Lingtyp] Non-compositional words for “rock-paper-scissors"

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Mon May 2 17:54:10 UTC 2022


Sorry to nitpick (all with the best of intentions), but I still don't 
understand your usage of the term "compositional" below:

On 02/05/2022 20:40, Daniel Ross wrote:
> Haha, yes, that's a great example, David, thanks for reminding me of 
> that one.
> Yes, I wonder also about the (possible) meanings of the components in 
> the other languages. It is interesting, though, that the terms in 
> English have, at least as far as I am aware, no other meaning at all. 
> (It's interesting that in Thai the third is "choop", and, not knowing 
> Thai, I'm going to guess that one might be scissors, assuming 
> individual components can be identified. I wonder if it's a general 
> ideophone, in which case then it would also arguably be compositional 
> to some degree.)

Could you, or anybody else, explain what "compositional" means in the 
above sentence.  For me, "compositionality" is when the meaning of a 
construction is derived from the meaning of its constituent parts.  I'm 
pretty sure that this is by far the most common meaning of the term in 
semantics and related fields, as reflected in numerous definitions in 
various chapters of the OUP handbook (below).  Are there other usages of 
the term that I am ignorant of?


Werning, M., W. Hinzen and E. Machery eds., (2012) /The Oxford Handbook 
of Compositionality/, Oxford University Press, Oxford.

David Gil

Senior Scientist (Associate)
Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, Leipzig, 04103, Germany

Email:gil at shh.mpg.de
Mobile Phone (Israel): +972-526117713
Mobile Phone (Indonesia): +62-81344082091
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