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CHAPTER 4. THE ADJECTIVE

1. The position of adjective in the system of parts of speech.

2. The prototypical structure of the class of adjectives. Subclasses of adjectives.

3. The interaction of the adjective with the other parts of speech.

1. Though the adjective is traditionally referred to as one of the four cardinal parts of speech, its position differs considerably from that of the noun and the verb which form two opposite poles and which are considered by some linguists to be the only two really universal parts of speech [Sapir 1949, 119]. The noun represents the concept of substance (thingness), the verb represents the dynamic property of substance (actions, states, processes) and the adjective represents the static, or permanent property of substance (quality or its relation to another substance). However, as we shall later see the degree of permanence in different adjectives can vary considerably. Considered from the point of view of their communicative function the adjective and the verb constitute a class of the so called predicative words which are opposed to the so called identifying words (pronouns, proper names. Common nouns are bifunctional and can function as both identifying and predicative words).The communicative, or discursive function of the identifying words is to name substance represented by various objects and phenomena of the world and also to name objects of our inner world whereas the discursive function of the predicative words is to name properties that we attribute to substance and the objects of our inner world which is performed in the act of predication, e.g. The Earth rotates round the Sun. The Earth is round. As it was aptly put by N.D. Arutyunova, identifying words represent what exists in the world and the predicative words - what we think of the world [ApynoHOBa 1976, 343]. So, as both the parts of speech -the adjective and the verb denote property of substance, they differ considerably across languages. One and the same property can be presented in one language by a verb and in another.- by an adjective (compare: Russian - epycmumb, dojiemb and English - be sad, be ill). The criterion of dynamics vs statics is also very flexible: is state dynamic or static? One and the same state can be represented by both a verbal and an adjectival form, e.g. to know - to be aware, to rejoice - to be glad, to sleep - to be asleep. In fact the criterion 'dynamic vs. static property' applies only to prototypical verbs and adjectives (e.g. to do -big ), but it does not apply to all the units of the verbal and adjectival class, as there are'static verbs (to be, to have, to belong) as well as dynamic adjectives (busy, ready, nervous, weary etc.) which denote properties or states limited in time. It is mainly for this reason that many scholars stress the functional proximity of the adjective and the verb and therefore refer them to one and the same 'deep category' [Jlafions 1978, 345].

 

On* the other hand, the adjective displays proximity to the class of nouns too. Adjectives are close to nouns genetically because in most languages adjectives as a class of words present a later formation. The emergence of adjectives became possible when the human mind developed the ability to conceptualize quality separately from substance and present it as a separate word (see: [IloTeSHH 1968, 59]). Historically and in the present-day English many adjectives are derived from nouns. In highly inflectional languages such as Russian and German" nouns and adjectives share the morphological categories of case, number and gender with the only difference that in nouns these categories are conceptual, or immanent and in adjectives they are formal, or reflective, conditioned by the grammatical rules of the language according to which in the structure of a noun phrase an adjective must agree with the noun in case, number and gender. Adjectives and nouns display conceptual proximity - one and the same concept may be represented both by an adjective and by a noun, e.g. a wealthy man - a man of wealth. This conceptual proximity results in the existence of numerous cases of functional synonymy (for detailed analysis see: [CopoKHna 1995]).



This specificity of adjectives and the fact that the verbal representation of property varies across languages has brought many scholars to a conclusion that adjectives do not constitute a universal part of speech The well-known specialist in typology Talmy Givon characterizes the class of adjectives as 'a notorious swing category' [Givon 1979, 14] which occupies an intermediate position between the two polar classes - the noun and the verb. He introduces the notion of time-stability scale, on which the noun and the verb occupy the opposite poles of the scale: nouns denote substance and are characterized by the utmost degree of stability and verbs denote action and are characterized by the utmost degree of dynamism. The adjective occupies an intermediate position mediating across languages and in one and the same language and thus possesing more 'nouniness' or more 'verbiness' [Wetzer 1995]. Schematically it may be presented like this:

N Adj V
most time-stable intermediate state most dynamic

decreasing nouniness increasing verbiness

So, we may conclude that the representation of the concept of property can be interpreted as the result of different choices that different languages make in .the partition of the N - V continuum, therefore the part- of -speech representation of the property concept differs from language to language. There are languages, like Vietnamese and Chinese where property concept is expressed by verbs used in certain syntactic positions, in other languages property is expressed mostly by nouns. In the English language adjectives constitute a separate class of words but this class is very heterogeneous and the boundaries between the class of adjectives and the classes of nouns and verbs are not rigid, but rather fuzzy and due to this adjectives interact with both nouns and verbs.

2. Adjectives in English constitute rather a large class of words and include both simple and derivative units. The number of simple adjectives is quite limited. According to statistics given by O.V.Afanasyeva they constitute only 3, 38% of all adjectives [A^anacteBa 1992, 45]. The majority of adjectival lexemes are derivatives, which means that they have distinct part-of-speech markers. Adjectives are derived from verbs, nouns and nominal phrases. The most productive adjective-building suffixes are -able/ible (readable, drinkable, kissable, doable), -y (fishy, sketchy, iffy, stony, silvery), -ic (prolific, terrific), -ous (wondrous, numerous, famous), -leal (nautical, whimsical, theatrical), - ed (narrow-minded, blue-eyed) .

The class of adjectives is composed of two unequal subclasses: qualitative and relative adjectives. Qualitative adjectives denote various qualities of substance that are gradable, e.g. a cold -welcome - a -very cold welcome, a strange behaviour - rather a strange behaviour. The feature of gradability finds a morphological expression - most of the qualitative adjectives have degrees of comparison, built both synthetically (easier - easier - the easiest, good - better -• the best) and analytically (interesting - more interesting — the most interesting). Yet, the feature of gradability does not embrace all qualitative adjectives as some qualitative adjectives denote qualities or states which are semantically incompatible with the idea of gradability (e.g. single, married, dead etc.). When such ungradable adjectives do occur in combinations with various intensifiers it is usually perceived as deviation from the norn^and such cases have an additional expressive colouring, e.g. He is too married (M. Atwood). Most qualitative adjectives have correlative adverbs with the suffix -ly, e.g. a slow walk - to walk slowly, a simple decision — to decide simply, a prompt answer - to answer promptly.

Relative adjectives denote properties related to some substance. The relational semantics of this subclass of adjectives comes out very clearly in the analysis of their definitions, e.g. wooden — made of wood, historical - belonging to history, national —.related to nation etc. Relative adjectives denote ungradable property and they do not combine with intensifiers and do not have degrees of comparison. The subclass of relative adjectives is much smaller as compared to qualitative adjectives and very often relational property is expressed by a noun in preposition to another noun, e.g. a stone wall, a glass menagerie, a platinum watch, a school district etc. Due to this ability of English nouns to be used attributively there are a lot of functional synonymic pairs, such

as a city police - urban problems, village guys - rural districts, a woman scholar — feminine problems etc. But such pairs never become doublets as they are usually differentiated by the sphere of their usage. Relative adjectives (and many of them are of Latin origin) are used in official style whereas their functional synonyms (nouns in their secondary syntactic functions) are more preferable for every day use. Very often in the process of deriving an adjective from a noun denoting substance the semantics of the adjective reflects not the basic property of the substance named by the noun, but some typical characteristics such as colour, size etc., which is reflected in the semantics of the noun as the result of sense perception or attributed to the property denoted by the noun. These characteristics of the substance constitute the semantic basis of qualitative adjectives, whereas relative properties are expressed by the nouns used attributively. Compare the following pairs: silvery hair - a silver spoon; a stony look — a stone floor; sandy hair - a sand castle; theatre festival — theatrical manners, sister cities — sisterly attitude. The semantics of the qualitative adjectives has at its basis such features of the named substance as colour (silvery, sandy), or fixedness (stony), artificiality (theatrical), kindness, warmth (sisterly) whereas the nouns silver, stone, sand, theatre, sister used attributively denote relational property. So we see that the qualitative adjectives denote additional characteristics of the substance named by the nouns and the basic property of the named substance is expressed by the transposed nouns used attributively. The borderline between the qualitative and the relative adjectives is not very rigid and some relative adjectives may function as qualitative as well as some nouns used attributively may be functional synonyms to not only relative but qualitative adjectives. A historical event may mean not really belonging-to history, but just an important event, a silver age (of Russian poetry) is related to the high quality of the poetry but not the material.

The class of adjectives has a distinct prototypical structure. The center of the class is taken up by the units of pure categorial semantics that reveal parallelism, or symmetry of their semantic, morphological and syntactic properties. Prototypical adjectives include units of the following semantic subclasses: adjectives denoting age (young, old), dimension (big, small), form, or shape (round, square), colour (red, white), human qualities ( kind, clever), weight (heavy, light), appearance (beautiful, ugly), complexity (difficult, easy). These adjectives denote permanent quality, most of them have a simple morphological structure and degrees of comparison, and they are bifunctional, i.e. can be used in both predicative and attributive positions. Relative adjectives occupy the near periphery; they denote permanent relational property and are bifunctional but as they denote relational property (substantive relations) they are not gradable (they lack degrees of comparison). They express property related to substance and therefore they are closer to the class of nouns than

qualitative adjectives. Their proximity to the class of nouns is manifested in their derivational characteristics - most of the relative adjectives are derived from noun stems.

The periphery adjacent to the class of verbs is taken up by several subclasses of adjectives which occupy the periphery at a different distance from the center. These adjectives are characterized by the syncretism of their categorial semantics - they combine adjectival features with verbal. The subclass of adjectives which is closest to the verb are the so called statives (awake, asleep, afoot, afraid, ablaze, glad, ill, sorry etc.). They differ from the prototypical adjectives semantically as they denote not permanent qualities but temporary states, which brings them very close to the verbs. Analyzing the semantic proximity of statives and verbs, John Lyons says that such adjectives and stative verbs are closer to each other semantically than actional and statal verbs [JlafioHS 1978, 345]. In fact, one and the same state can be represented by a verb and a stative which results in the existence of such synonymic pairs as to sleep and to be asleep, to know and to be aware etc. They often co-occur in one and the same context, e.g. / was aware that the earth was round but I knew it •was flat (S. Maugham). As we can see from the example the verb to know and the verbal expression with the stative aware are functional synonyms and differ only lexically expressing different degree of knowledge. Like verbs, statives are characterized by valency (to be fond of, to be aware of etc), like adjectives, most statives are gradable, e.g. I feel more dead than alive. Syntactically the statives also differ from the prototypical adjectives as they can be used only predicatively and cannot function as attributes. For this specificity of statives some linguists consider them to be a separate part of speech [Ilyish 1971, 30]. However, taking into consideration the prototypical structure of the adjectival class, there are more reasons to consider them as a peripheral subclass in the class of adjectives which is semantically and functionally very close to the class of statal verbs. Like all synonyms, the statives and statal verbs never become absolute synonyms or doublets and there is always a shade of difference in their meanings and their use. Thus, the comparison of the verb sleep and the phrase be asleep shows that the verb combines more easily with different adverbial modifiers, e.g. sleep like a log, sleep easily, not to sleep a wink, I shall not sleep in this bed whereas its functional synonym be asleep can hardly combine with such adverbial modifiers, ? be asleep like a log .

Another large subclass of peripheral adjectives comprises adjectives derived from the verb with the help of the suffix -able/ible (there are also adjectives derived from nouns, e.g. knowledgeable). As the result of their derivation from the verbs these adjectives retain, or inherit some of the verbal properties and their categorial semantics is syncretic as it combines both verbal and adjectival features. They denote a quality (usually a temporal quality) that provides a possibility of performing a certain action upon a person or a thing

possessing this quality. E.g. doable - capable of being done or executed, drinkable - that can be drunk. Some of such adjectives, though, have an active meaning, e.g. agreeable. Thus they combine in their semantics the meaning of quality (an adjectival feature) with the meanings of modality and passivity (verbal features). Like prototypical adjectives, they have degrees of comparison (e.g. the most doable thing) and are bifunctional (though the predicative function is more common for them than attributive). Like verbs, they participate in the expression of modal and voice distinctions. Like passive forms of the verb adjectives in -able/ible can even be followed by an agentive object, e.g. Pork brought forth his favourite ruffled shirt, so inexpertly mended by the chambermaid as to be unbearable by anyone except his valet (M.Mitchell). Their verbal features are also manifested in their valency, as in: If you are agreeable to our proposal, -we'll go ahead (OALD); She was knowledgeable about music and art (N. Sparks). (For more detail see: [BopomjoBa 2004, 13-15]).

The semantic and functional proximity of this subclass of adjectives to the class of verbs led some scholars to a conclusion that they can be considered as a special form of participle rather than an adjective [HH^aHTbeBa 1972]. Other scholars treat them as poly functional formations which, on the one hand, belong to the class of adjectives and, on the other, can be included into the class of verbs as 'modal participles' [FBHiuHaHH 1979, 158]. We believe that there are more reasons to consider these units as peripheral adjectives but not participles because though the suffix -able is very productive yet it does not embrace the whole class of verbs and therefore cannot be considered to be a formbuilding suffix (e.g. drinkable, but Isippable; seeable but Istareable). Besides, the possibility of deriving root antonyms from these units (drinkable - undrinkable, readable'- unreadable etc.) also speaks of their adjectival but not participial status as there are no verbs like undrink or unread and participles form negation with the help of the negative particle not, like all verbs, e.g. Snakes •were not mentioned now, were unmentionable (W. Golding).

Adjectives in -able/ible are widely used in all functional styles. They are very convenient for the scientific style due to their compactness, semantic richness and the ability to present an action without mentioning the agent, thus providing the effect of depersonalization, which is a characteristic feature of the scientific style where the focus is usually on the object rather than on the agent of the action. E.g. Language must above all be learnable (J. Campbell); But, according to relativistic objectivism, truths expressible in one language may not be translatable into another, since each language may carve up the world in a different way (G. Lakoff, M. Johnson).

However, deliberate depersonalization may be resorted to not only in scientific style but also in fiction and every day speech when the need to avoid mentioning the agent is dictated by some pragmatic factors. Let's analyze the following fragment of a conversation. "Well, may we see Bruno? " "Bruno isn 't very seeable today" (I. Murdoch}. The use of the adjective seeable (coined by the author) can be explained by the fact that the speaker wants to make the refusal very polite as if trying to say that the reason of his refusal is not he himself but Bruno who is no condition to be seen by anyone.

There are several more subclasses of peripheral adjectives which may become semantically and functionally close to verbs in certain contextual conditions. Among them are the adjectival lexemes that denote a temporary quality, e.g. reluctant, nervous, unwilling, weary etc. When used predicatively these adjectives characterize not so much the subject but rather the action performed by the subject, e.g. Why are you so reluctant to reveal sources (J. Fowles). The sentence can be paraphrased in the following way without changing its meaning: Why do you reveal sources so reluctantly?

Adjectives denoting static properties may acquire a dynamic meaning when the link verb to be is used in the form of Continuous. E.g. "You are being naughty", I said. "I thought I was being irreverently charming" (E. Segal); "He was just being Italian ". "You 're an American, aren 'tyou? " (I. Shaw). Due to the Continuous form of the link verb the nominal predicate acquires a dynamic quality and a 'behavioral' meaning, it means to behave in a certain way displaying a quality named by the adjective. Such cases are usually translated into Russian with the help Of 'behavioral' verbs Kanpusnuuamb, yuHunamb etc.

3. While presenting the prototypical structure of the adjectival class we have actually started the problem of the interaction between the class of adjectives and the other cardinal parts of speech, especially between the adjectives and the verbs. Now let us turn our attention to the relations between the class of adjectives and the class of nouns.

Nojuns and adjectives are close to each other genetically as in most European languages adjectives are a later formation and most of them are derived from nouns. The emergence of adjectives as a class of words became possible when the human mind began to conceptualize quality separately from the object and present it as a separate word. The semantic proximity of nouns and adjectives is especially evident in relative adjectives which from the semantic point of view denote a substance-related property. This semantic proximity is also manifested in the fact that English nouns are regularly used as functional synonyms of relative adjectives and very often they are used attributively to make up for the absence of a corresponding relative adjectives. Compare: Russian - rwamuHoean Kapmomta, English - a platinum card where the noun platinum is used attributively.

The functional interaction of adjectives with nouns is manifested in the process traditionally called substantivization of adjectives. In fact substantivization is an umbrella term that covers three different processes which coincide in their result, i.e. the homonymy of the mother and daughter lexemes (the deriving and the derived lexemes). But this homonymy is the results of qualitatively different processes which include conversion, ellipsis of a noun phrase and the transposed use of adjectives. Nouns derived from adjectives by means of conversion (zero derivation) are characterized by the symmetry of morphological and syntactic properties. They have all the features of nouns: they combine with both the articles, numerals, pronouns and adjectives, they have the forms of both the numbers. E.g. It's a possible, I'll think about it (J. Waller); From childhood they had been exact opposites in temperament ( M.Mitchell).

Cases of conversion in the sphere of adjectives are not numerous, however. Far more numerous are the cases when adjectives come to function as nouns as the result of a noun deletion from nominal phrases which becomes possible when the meaning of the deleted noun is implicit in the adjectives, e.g. a musical play— a musical, a semi-detached house— a semi-detached. As a result of such deletion the remaining adjective 'inherits' the noun characteristics and functions as a prototypical noun, e.g. ... the house was_a semi-detached in a 1920s suburb at the mouth of the Thames, some forty miles from London (J. Fowles). There were several new red-bricks along the street (D. Lessing); I love musicals.

The deleted noun can be easily restored which is impossible in the case of nouns formed from adjectives by means of conversion.

The third and the most regular process of interaction between adjectives and nouns manifests itself in the use of adjectives in the syntactic position of nouns. The transposed adjectives are characterized by the asymmetry of their categorial features, as they possess both the adjectival and the nominal features. Like nouns they take the definite article and denote either a group of people (the rich; the poor, the bold and the beautiful etc.) or abstract notions (the unknown, the unforgettable, the unattainable etc.), they are used in the positions of the subject, object and predicative and may be modified by an attribute (the idle rich, the filthy rich). At the same time they retain some adjectival features: they have degrees of comparison, e.g. He was pleased to be able to boast that a cousin of his had married one of the most celebrated (S. Maugham). The best die young (D. Lessing).

Also like adjectives' they may be modified by adverbs of degree. E.g. Money for her as with the extremely rich and the very poor - was not something to be husbanded against a problematic future but to be spent as it came in , and rather grandly at that (A. Miller).

This syncretism of nominal and adjectival features differentiates substantive transposition of adjectives from the processes of conversion and ellipsis discussed above.

The semantics of the adjectives transposed into the syntactic positions of nouns also undergoes certain modification: they denote not a quality but a group of people of things united together on the basis of a certain quality and thus they become functional synonyms of two subclasses of nouns: collective nouns and abstract nouns. This function of generalization is carried out by the definite article. The generalizing function of the definite article comes out most clearly in cases when the transposed adjectives are used in a chain of homogeneous parts of the sentence side by side with prototypical nouns where the definite article carries out the same generalizing function. E.g. How clever of you to rook the helpless and the widow and the orphan and the poor (M. Mitchell).

Due to this generalizing meaning transposed adjectives are frequently used in aphorisms, proverbs and other universal statements. E.g. From the sublime to the ridiculous there is only one step (B. Napoleon). The old believe everything; the middle-aged suspect everything; the young know everything (O. Wilde). Such generalizing utterances carry out an important function in the semantic organization of the text. Very often they occur in sentences opening a chapter, a story or a novel and present in a laconic form the central thesis which the author is going to prove or disprove. E.g. Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming fellow. Romance is the privilege of the rich, not the profession of the unemployed. The poor should be practical and prosaic. It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating (O. Wilde). As we can see from the extract, the meaning of generalization is expressed not only by the transposed adjectives, but also by other means of generalization: the indefinite pronoun one, the panchronic present, the abstract nouns like romance. The convergence of all these means imparts a generalizing effect to the text.

As the result of the regular use in nominal positions some adjectives may acquire all features of a noun and eventually join the class of nouns. But such cases are very rare, e.g. He's been working like a black (I. Murdoch). Higher homeless rates for blacks (MS, November 17, 1989).

To conclude the description of the interaction between the class of adjectives and the class of nouns we may say that the two classes are close to each other genetically and onomasiologically (substance and its property) and they often come into contact derivationally and syntactically which makes the borderline between them rather fuzzy. Using the metaphor once offered by J. Ross we may say that the transition from nounhood to adjectivehood is not a new but a used staircase, i.e. it is not abrupt, but gradual.

Now let us turn to the relations between the classes of adjectives and adverbs. These two classes- are also related to each other onomasiologically and derivationally. Both denote property, property of substance and property of

action correspondingly (a slow walk - to walk slowly; a simple decision - to decide simply). They are related derivationally as most of the qualitative adverbs are derived from adjectives. The two classes may also interact with each other functionally, by exchanging syntactic functions. However, cases of adjectival transposition into the adverbial sphere are not as regular as the transposition of adjectives into the noun sphere. To denote a property of the action the adjective has to take an adverbial form, i.e. to acquire the adverbial suffix -ly. Though sometimes we do come across the use of adjectives in an adverbial position, e.g. Her mother dresses her nice; Don't speak so loud and though the adverbial meaning of such units is made absolutely transparent by their syntactic position, such cases are limited to some dialects (e.g. Afro-American English) and substandard speech and are usually 'frowned upon' as they characterize the speaker socially [Garner 1989, 115].

Far more frequent are the cases when the two classes come closer to each other by means of the exchange of semantic functions. This type of interaction may be called indirect because it happens as the consequence of the interaction between the other parts of speech, namely nouns and verbs. Let us turn to the following sentences: He was very much Rhoda 's master. Still, this physical detail was a continuing nag (H. Wouk); We 'll have to do some serious thinking (J. Heller). In these two sentences the adjectives continuing and serious are components of noun phrases and formally they are attributes to these nouns. But the verbal nouns nag and thinking are used as means of indirect nomination of action, semantically they are closer to verbs. Consequently the adjectives continuing and serious are formally attributes but semantically they characterize the action and not substance, which makes it possible to paraphrase the sentences without changing their meaning , e.g. This physical detail nags her continually; We'll have to think seriously. So we may treat such cases as examples of indirect functional interaction.

Another case of such indirect functional interaction is observed in the so called transferred parts of the sentence (For detailed information about transferred parts of the sentence see: [OcoKHHa 2003]). E.g. We drank the hock and smacked appreciative lips (S. Maugham); He blew a reflective bubble (A. Carter). In these sentences the adjectives appreciative and reflective are formally attributes to nouns, but semantically they characterize the action and not substance - they are transposed attributes which can be verified by the transformation of the sentences: We smacked our lips appreciatively: He blew a bubble reflectively. The transformed variants have the same meaning yet they lack the expressive colouring which is always present in the transferred parts of the sentence.

 

 


Date: 2015-01-12; view: 1657


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