This introductory chapter begins with a brief overview of the book, focusing on the distinction between Conjunctivist and Functionist conceptions of how form is related to meaning, in the languages that human children naturally acquire. If concatenation always signifies predicate conjunction, lexical items must be understood as monadic predicates, grammatical arguments must be semantically associated with something like thematic roles, and sentences must involve closure of a covert variable. If concatenation always signifies function application conjunction, the picture of lexicalization and composition is quite different. The second part of the chapter reviews some facts that semanticists hope to explain, partly in terms of an empirically adequate account of semantic composition.
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