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The Psychology of Word Meanings by Paula J. Schwanenflugel

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4The Combination of Prototype Concepts

James HamptonCity University London

How does the meaning of a sentence relate to the meaning of the individual words within it? This question is one of the central issues in the semantics of natural language. In the absence of any strong contextual influence, the answer must be that the meaning of a sentence is composed or derived from the meanings of the individual words within it. On this view, semantics needs to provide a description of individual lexical meanings, together with combination rules for combining words into phrases, clauses, and sentences.1

This chapter is concerned with a particular problem in compositional semantics—namely the way in which the meaning of complex noun phrases is derived ...

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