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

Daniel Ross djross3 at gmail.com
Mon May 2 18:02:45 UTC 2022

Yes, that's the definition I'm assuming. "Rock-paper-scissors" describes a
game involving "rocks", "papers" and "scissors" (metaphorically speaking,
as hand shapes).

As we've discussed, this usage is semi-productive, and productivity
requires some degree of compositionality: the parts somehow contribute to
the meaning. It's a specific usage context, and it's metonymy as you noted,
but there's still some degree of internal semantic structure (i.e.

I agree with you that there may be a better term for Ian to use to frame
this, but I understood what he meant, and even in a technical sense there's
some degree of compositionality that is relevant here, at least for the
productive cases. (I don't know if that applies to other languages.)

On Mon, May 2, 2022 at 10:54 AM David Gil <gil at shh.mpg.de> wrote:

> Daniel,
> 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?
> David
> 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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