(14) Adjectives and their Formal and Semantic Properties.
(Syntactic Functions; The Nature of Gradation, its Formal Characteristics and Semantic Restrictions; Adjectives and Adverbs Identical in Form; Adjective in –ly; Sequences of Adjectives in Pre-modifying Chains).
(14.1) Semantic Classification
(1) qualitative and evaluative x relative adjectives
- qualitative and evaluative ADJ: express a gradable property > gradable (wise, likely, similar)
- relative ADJ: express an absolute property, describe some material or some relationship > non-gradable (blind, wooden, annual)
(2) action x state adjectives
- ADJ semantically most closely resemble V, esp. state V (V: succeed > ADJ: be successful)
- more action V than state V x more state ADJ than action ADJ
- be + progressive + ADJ: you are being clever/stupid/ridiculous; etc.
(3) ADJ semantically directly related to the head x indirectly related
- E: ADJ semantically more freely related to the head noun x CZ: ADJ closely related
- ADJ can modify not the head N itself x but: some property implied by the noun: a sick child x a sick room
- E: a good singer [not a good person x but: a person who sings well], a heavy smoker, a big eater; etc.
- CZ: dobrý zpěvák
(14.2) Morphological Properties
(14.2.1) Derivational Morphology
- some typically adjectival suffixes: -able (unaccountable), -ous (envious), -ive (extensive), -ish (foolish)
- suffixes shared with another class:
(a) N + -en = ADJ (wooden) x ADJ + + -en = V (moisten)
(b) -ing = ADJ (interesting, amusing, striking) = present participle V
(c) -ed = ADJ (tired, complicated, surprised) = past participle V
- some ADJ derived from irregular V x different from the verbal participles: ADJ drunken x V drunk; ADJ shaven x V shaved; etc.
- ADJ with the participial form in composites: full-grown, clean-shaven, well-bred; etc.
- many ADJ not formed by derivation: proud, rude, large, soft, mild, shallow, etc.
- ADJ morphologically most closely resemble ADV
- many ADV not formed by derivation: then, often, soon, here, there, etc.
- both ADJ and ADV: long, fast, late, near, etc.
- most frequent adverbial suffix –ly shared with ADJ: ADV obviously x ADJ lonely, cowardly, friendly, etc.
- both ADJ and ADV suffixed –ly: kindly, early, weekly, daily, likely, etc.
- ADJ x ADV distinguished by their syntactical function: ADJ modifies N x ADV modifies V
(14.2.2) Inflectional Morphology
- E: invariable for number, gender, person and case
- CZ: number, gender, case, declination
- inflectional grading: -er/-est
- degrees of comparison
(a) positive, or, absolute
- analytical grading (or, periphrastic): more/most – obligatory with long polysyllabic ADJ 3+ syllables/facultative with short ADJ
- inflectional grading: -er/-est – common with monosyllabic or disyllabic ADJ
- loss of word-final unaccented -e: wider > wider > widest; etc.
- alternation of word-final -y > -i: heavy > heavier > heaviest; etc.
- doubling of word-final accented single consonant: hot > hotter > hottest; etc.
(22.214.171.124) Irregular Gradation
- good > better > best
- bad > worse > worst
- little > less/lesser [figurative] (e.g. a point of less importance/a lesser poet) > least
- many/much > more > most
- far > farther/further [figurative] (e.g. on the farther river bank/further evidence) > farthest/furthest
- old [of family members] > elder > eldest
(14.3) Syntactic Properties
(14.3.1) Syntactic Functions
(a) attribute: a spacious hall
(b) nominal part of the predicate: the hall is spacious
(c) subject/object complement: he died poor/he considers it impertinent
(14.3.2) Syntactic Classification
- most ADJ can be used both as attribute/as predicate: a blunt knife/the knife is blunt
(1) ADJ used only in the pre-modifying attributive function
- ADJ with a restrictive meaning: a certain place, the chief point, the very man
- some ADJ derived from ADV: inner, outer, upper, lower
- some ADJ in comparative: former, latter, elder, lesser
- ADJ not directly modifying the head noun: a hard worker, a clear winner, an old friend
- ADJ intensifying the head noun: utter darkness, sheer luck, mere chance, a complete stranger, absolute nonsense, a definite gain
(2) ADJ used only in the post-modifying attributive function
- legal E: the president elect, body politic, heir apparent, linguistics proper
- some ADJ beginning in a-: the house ablaze, the boat afloat
- polysemic ADJ: the present situation x the members present, the members absent; an involved problem x the people involved, the people concerned
- post-modified ADJ: a view differing from ours, a house adjacent to the church, a situation impossible to foresee
- any ADJ following the indefinite pronouns ending in -body/-one/-thing/-where
(3) ADJ used only in the predicative function
- used mostly after the copulative verb seem
- some ADJ beginning in a-: afraid, alert, alike, alive, aloof, alone, ashamed, asleep
- x some a- ADJ can be used in the pre-modifying attributive function when themselves pre-modified: a half-asleep child, the deeply ashamed girl
- idiosyncratic items: ill, well, unwell, sorry
- x some idiosyncratic ADJ can be used in the pre-modifying attributive function when modifying an inanimate object: he is ill x ill health, he is sorry x in a sorry state
(14.4.1) Semantic Functions
- subjective: the best girl, a successful play, a severe famine
- expressive of modality: the only occasion, a mere question
- intensifying: the true gentlemen, a real victory
- qualifying objective: a round table, the green lights, an old house
- the Italian police, steel alloys
(14.4.2) Pre-Modifying Adjectival Sequences
- the primary criterion for distribution = semantics
- adherent (arbitrary) property farthest from the head noun > inherent property closest
- size/shape > colour/nationality/age: her big blue eyes, recent American literature, a beautiful little old blue ornament
- x group modifiers = modification of established collocations: a long distance // call; a plastic top // table; a real // family doctor
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Svoboda, Aleš, and Mária Opělová Károlyová. A Brief Survey of the English Morphology. Ostrava: Ostravská univerzita, 1993.
Veselovská, Ludmila. Přednášky a semináře: Morfologie 2. ZS 2003/04.