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Adjective. The category of degrees of comparison.

Adjective is a part of speech characterized by the following typical features:

- the lexico-grammatical meaning of “attributes (of substantives)”.

- the morphological category of the degrees of comparison.

- the characteristic combinability with nouns, link verbs, adverbs.

-the stem-building affixes -ful, -less, -ish, -ous, -ive, -ic, un-, pre-, in-, etc.

- Its functions of an attribute and a predicative complement.

Classification of adjectives.

With regard to the category of the degrees of comparison adjectives fall under 2 lexico-grammatical subclasses: comparables and non-comparables. The nucleus of the latter is composed of derived adjectives like wooden, Crimean, mathematical, etc. Theses adjectives are called relative as distinct from all other adjectives called qualitative.

Most qualitative adjectives build up opposemes of comparison, but some do not:

- adjectives that in themselves express the highest degree of a quality: supreme;

- those having the suffix –ish which indicates the degree of quality: reddish;

- those denoting qualities which are not compatible with the idea of comparison: deaf, dead.

The category of degrees of comparis:

The category of the degrees of comparison of adjectives is the system of opposemes (long – longer – longest) showing qualitative distinctions of qualities. More exactly it shows whether the adjective denotes the property of some substance absolutely, or relatively as a higher or the highest amount of the property in comparison with that of some other substances.

‘Positive’, ‘comparative’ and ‘superlative’ degrees.

The positive degree is not marked. We may speak of a zero morpheme. The comparative and superlative degrees are built up either synthetically (by affixation or suppletivity) or analytically (with the help of word-morphemes more and most), which depends mainly on the structure of the stem.

Some authors treat more beautiful and the most beautiful not as analytical forms, but as free syntactical combinations of adverbs and adjectives. One of the arguments is that less and least form combinations with adjectives similar to those with more and most: e.g. more beautiful – less beautiful, the most beautiful – the least beautiful.

In order to prove that more beautiful is an analytical form of the comparative degree, we have to prove that more is a grammatical word-morpheme identical with the morpheme -er.

More an –er are identical as their meaning of ‘a higher degree’. Their distribution is complementary. Together they cover all the adjectives having the degrees of comparison. Those adjectives which have comparative opposites with suffix –er have usually no parallel opposites with more and vice versa.

Less and –er have different, even opposite meanings. The distribution of –er and less is not complementary. One and the same lexical morpheme regularly attaches both less and –er: prettier – less pretty, safer – less safe.

Besides, unlike more, less is regularly replaced by not so: less pretty = not so pretty.

These facts show that more in more beautiful is a grammatical word-morpheme identical with the morpheme –er of the comparative degree grammeme à more beautiful is an analytical form.

A new objection is raised in the case of the superlative degree. In the expression a most interesting theory the indefinite article is used whereas a prettiest child is impossible à there is some difference between the synthetic superlative and the analytical one.

One must not forget that more and most are not only word-morphemes of comparison. They can be notional words. They are polysemantic and polyfunctional words. One of the meanings of most is ‘very, exceedingly’ (a most interesting book).

The notional word more in the meaning ‘to greater extent’ can also be used to modify adjectives, as in It’s more grey than brown. More grey here is a combination of words.

The positive degree does not convey the idea of comparison. Its meaning is absolute. Jespersen: the positive degree is, a matter of fact, negative in relation to comparison.

The comparative degree and the superlative degree are both relative in meaning (Peter is older than Mary – Peter is not old).

Statives. Among the words signifying properties of a nounal referent there is a leximic set which claims to be recognied as a separate part of speech, a class of words different form the adjectives in its class-forming features. These are words built up by the prefix a- and denoting different states, mostly of temporary duration. Here belong lexemes like afraid, agog, adrift, ablaze. These are treated as predicative adjectives in traditional grammar. Statives are ‘adlinks’ (on analogy with adverbs), they are opposed to adjectives



Date: 2015-12-24; view: 1099

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