1. Compositionality principle:
Compositionality is a basic principle in grammatical semantics which claims that single meanings combine together to form more complex meanings. That is to say, we must interpret utterances from our knowledge of the meanings of simple expressions and the constructions used in combining them.
The meaning of a complex expression is fully determined by its structure and the meanings of its constituents (we fix what the parts mean and how they are put together, and then we identify the meaning of the whole) This is the principle of compositionality, a fundamental approach of most contemporary work in semantics.
• “a blue shirt” = a + blue + shirt
• “the teacher is in class” = the + teacher + is + in + class
- If we know what the words mean, using our knowledge of syntactic and semantic rules we can work out the meanings of sentences, even ones we have not previously encountered.
This is a process rooted in individual psychology, called routinization. If two or more actions are often performed together, we make them into a routine, that is, we create a package of automatized parts for which a single decision is sufficient.
“There you go”
It is so routinized and grammaticalized that it has lost its original meaning. It is here that creativity comes in, when speakers try to find new ways of saying things.
Linguistic communication always relies on extra-linguistic knowledge. Using it is in fact a precondition for linguistic creativity: without it, a speaker could not rely on a listener's capacity to read `between lines'.
Limitations of Compositionality:
An idiom is an expression whose meaning is not compositional, that is, whose meaning does not follow the meaning of the individual words of which it is composed. Idioms are often, though perhaps not universally, classified as figures of speech.
Idioms typically admit two different interpretations: a literal one and a non-literal (or figurative) one.
Idioms are often colloquial metaphors.
To catch someone red-handed: this meaning of this idiom is "to find someone when he's doing something wrong". It alludes to the discovery of the murderer so soon after committing the crime that blood is still on his hands.
Definition: a figure of speech that consists of the use of the name of one objector concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is a part.
“The pen is mightier than the sword”