A probabilistic framework for analysing the compositionality of conceptual combinations

Bruza, Peter D., Kitto, Kirsty, Ramm, Brentyn J., & Sitbon, Laurianne (2015) A probabilistic framework for analysing the compositionality of conceptual combinations. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 67, pp. 26-38.

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Conceptual combination performs a fundamental role in creating the broad range of compound phrases utilised in everyday language. While the systematicity and productivity of language provide a strong argument in favour of assuming compositionality, this very assumption is still regularly questioned in both cognitive science and philosophy. This article provides a novel probabilistic framework for assessing whether the semantics of conceptual combinations are compositional, and so can be considered as a function of the semantics of the constituent concepts, or not. Rather than adjudicating between different grades of compositionality, the framework presented here contributes formal methods for determining a clear dividing line between compositional and non-compositional semantics. Compositionality is equated with a joint probability distribution modelling how the constituent concepts in the combination are interpreted. Marginal selectivity is emphasised as a pivotal probabilistic constraint for the application of the Bell/CH and CHSH systems of inequalities (referred to collectively as Bell-type). Non-compositionality is then equated with either a failure of marginal selectivity, or, in the presence of marginal selectivity, with a violation of Bell-type inequalities. In both non-compositional scenarios, the conceptual combination cannot be modelled using a joint probability distribution with variables corresponding to the interpretation of the individual concepts. The framework is demonstrated by applying it to an empirical scenario of twenty-four non-lexicalised conceptual combinations.

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3 citations in Scopus
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2 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 85144
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Conceptual combination, Semantic compositionality, Quantum cognition
DOI: 10.1016/j.jmp.2015.06.002
ISSN: 0022-2496
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > PSYCHOLOGY AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES (170000) > COGNITIVE SCIENCE (170200) > Linguistic Processes (incl. Speech Production and Comprehension) (170204)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
Current > Institutes > Institute for Future Environments
Current > Schools > School of Information Systems
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 Elsevier
Copyright Statement: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution; Non-Commercial; No-Derivatives 4.0 International. DOI: 10.1016/j.jmp.2015.06.002
Deposited On: 06 Jul 2015 23:27
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2016 02:49

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