Componential analysis

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In semantics, componential analysis is the idea that the meaning of words can be analyzed as construed from basic semantic primitives (features or markers).


Two famous examples of componential analysis are informally paraphrased in (i) and (ii):

(i) x kill y = x cause y to be not alive

(ii) x is a bachelor = x is an unmarried man


Componential analysis is typical of the so-called Katz-Fodor-semantics, Generative Semantics, and Jackendoff's Conceptual Structure.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics


  • Jackendoff, R. 1983. Semantics and cognition. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
  • Jackendoff, R. 1990. Semantic Structures. Cambridge, MIT-Press.
  • Katz, Jerrold. 1972. The philosophy of linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • McCawley, J. 1968. Lexical insertion in a grammar without Deep Structure. In Papers from the fourth regional meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society. Darden, B.J., Bailey, C.-J.N. & Davison, A. (eds.), Chicago.