Рефераты. Adjective


Университет Российской академии образования


по теоретической грамматике

на тему: “Adjective”


иностранных языков



Москва, 2001

The adjective expresses the categorial semantics of property of a

substance. It means that each adjective used in tile text presupposes

relation to some noun the property of whose referent it denotes, such as

its material, colour, dimensions, position, state, and other

characteristics both permanent and temporary. It follows from this that,

unlike nouns, adjectives do not possess a full nominative value. Indeed,

words like long, hospitable, fragrant cannot effect any self-dependent

nominations; as units of informative sequences they exist only in

collocations showing what is long, who is hospitable, what is fragrant.

The semantically bound character of the adjective is emphasized in

English by the use of the prop-substitute one in the absence of the

notional head-noun of the phrase. E.g.:

I don't want a yellow balloon, let me have the green

one over there.

On the other hand, if the adjective is placed in a nominatively self-

dependent position, this leads to its substantivization. E.g.: Outside it

was a beautiful day, and the sun tinged the snow with red. Cf.: The sun

tinged the snow with the red colour.

Adjectives are distinguished by a specific combinability with nouns,

which they modify, if not accompanied by adjuncts, usually in pre-position,

and occasionally in postposition; by a combinability with link-verbs, both

functional and notional; by a combinability with modifying adverbs.

In the sentence the adjective performs the functions of an attribute

and a predicative. Of the two, the more specific function of the adjective

is that of an attribute, since the function of a predicative can be

performed by the noun as well. There is, though, a profound difference

between the predicative uses of the adjective and the noun which is

determined by their native categorial features. Namely, the predicative

adjective expresses some attributive property of its noun-referent, whereas

the predicative noun expresses various substantival characteristics of its

referent, such as its identification or classification of different types.

This can be shown on examples analysed by definitional and transformational

procedures. Cf.:

You talk to people as if they were a group. —> You talk to people as

if they formed a group. Quite obviously, he was a friend. —> His behaviour

was like that of a friend.

Cf., as against the above:

I will be silent as a grave. —> I will be like a silent grave. Walker felt

healthy. —> Walker felt a healthy man. It was sensational. —> That fact was

a sensational fact.

When used as predicatives or post-positional attributes, a

considerable number of adjectives, in addition to the general combinability

characteristics of the whole class, are distinguished by a complementive

combinability with nouns. The complement-expansions of adjectives are

effected by means of prepositions. E.g. fond of, jealous of, curious of,

suspicious of; angry with, sick with, serious about, certain about, happy

about; grateful to, thankful to, etc. Many such adjectival collocations

render essentially verbal meanings and some of them have direct or indirect

parallels among verbs. Cf.: be fond of—love, like; be envious of — envy; be

angry with — resent; be mad for, about - covet; be thankful to — thank.

Alongside of other complementive relations expressed with the help of

prepositions and corresponding to direct and prepositional object-relations

of verbs, some of these adjectives may render relations of addressee. Cf.:

grateful to, indebted to, partial to, useful for.

To the derivational features of adjectives belong a number of suffixes

and prefixes of which the most important are:

-ful (hopeful), -less (flawless),-ish (bluish, -ous (famous), -ive

(decorative), -ic (basic); un- (unprecedented), in- (inaccurate), pre-


Among the adjectival affixes should also be named the prefix a-,

constitutive for the stative sub-class which is to be discussed below.

As for the variable (demutative) morphological features, the English

adjective, having lost in the course of the history of English all its

forms of grammatical agreement with the noun, is distinguished only by the

hybrid category of comparison.

All the adjectives are traditionally divided into two large

subclasses: qualitative and relative.

Relative adjectives express such properties of a substance as are

determined by the direct relation of the substance to some other substance.

E.g.: wood — a wooden hut; mathematics — mathematical precision;

history — a historical event;

table — tabular presentation; colour — coloured postcards;

surgery — surgical treatment; the Middle Ages — mediaeval rites.

The nature of this "relationship" in adjectives is best revealed by

definitional correlations. Cf.: a wooden hut — a hut made of wood; a

historical event — an event referring to a certain period of history;

surgical treatment — treatment consisting in the implementation of surgery;


Qualitative adjectives, as different from relative ones, denote

various qualities of substances which admit of a quantitative estimation,

i.e. of establishing their correlative quantitative measure. The measure of

a quality can be estimated as high or low, adequate or inadequate,

sufficient or insufficient, optimal or excessive. Cf.: an awkward situation

— a very awkward situation; a difficult task — too difficult a task; an

enthusiastic reception — rather an enthusiastic reception; a hearty welcome

— not a very hearty welcome; etc.

In this connection, the ability of an adjective to form degrees of

comparison is usually taken as a formal sign of its qualitative character,

in opposition to a relative adjective which is understood as incapable of

forming degrees of comparison by definition. Cf.: a pretty girl --a

prettier girl; a quick look — a quicker look; a hearty welcome — the

heartiest of welcomes; a bombastic speech — the most bombastic speech.

However, in actual speech the described principle of distinction is

not at all strictly observed, which is noted in the very grammar treatises

putting it forward. Two typical cases of contradiction should be pointed

out here.

In the first place, substances can possess such qualities as are

incompatible with the idea of degrees of comparison. Accordingly,

adjectives denoting these qualities, while belonging to the qualitative

subclass, are in the ordinary use incapable of forming degrees of

comparison. Here refer adjectives like extinct, immobile, deaf, final,

fixed, etc.

In the second place, many adjectives considered under the heading of

relative still can form degrees of comparison, thereby, as it were,

transforming the denoted relative property of a substance into such as can

be graded quantitatively. Cf.: a mediaeval approach—rather a mediaeval

approach — a far more mediaeval approach; of a military design — of a less

military design — of a more military design;

a grammatical topic ~ a purely grammatical topic — the most grammatical of

the suggested topics.

In order to overcome the demonstrated lack of rigour in the

definitions in question, we may introduce an additional linguistic

distinction which is more adaptable to the chances of usage. The suggested

distinction is based on the evaluative function of adjectives. According as

they actually give some qualitative evaluation to the substance referent or

only point out its corresponding native property, all the adjective

functions may be grammatically divided into "evaluative" and

"specificative". In particular, one and the same adjective, irrespective of

its being basically (i.e. in the sense of the fundamental semantic property

of its root constituent) "relative" or "qualitative", can be used either in

the evaluative function or in the specificative function.

For instance, the adjective good is basically qualitative. On the

other hand, when employed as a grading term in teaching, i.e. a term

forming part of the marking scale together with the grading terms bad,

satisfactory, excellent, it acquires the said specificative value; in other

words, it becomes a specificative, not an evaluative unit in the

grammatical sense

(though, dialectically, it does signify in this case a lexical evaluation

of the pupil's progress). Conversely, the adjective wooden is basically

relative, but when used in the broader meaning "expressionless" or

"awkward" it acquires an evaluative force and, consequently, can presuppose

a greater or lesser degree ("amount") of the denoted properly in the

corresponding referent. E.g.:

Bundle found herself looking into the expressionless, wooden face of

Superintendent Battle (A. Christie). The superintendent was sitting behind

a table and looking more wooden than ever.

The degrees of comparison are essentially evaluative formulas,

therefore any adjective used in a higher comparison degree (comparative,

superlative) is thereby made into an evaluative adjective, if only for the

nonce (see the examples above).

Thus, the introduced distinction between the evaluative and

specificative uses of adjectives, in the long run, emphasizes the fact that

the morphological category of comparison (comparison degrees) is

potentially represented in the whole class of adjectives and is

constitutive for it.

Among the words signifying properties of a nounal referent there is a

lexemic set which claims to be recognized as a separate part of speech,

i.e. as a class of words different from 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. In traditional grammar these words were generally

considered under the heading of "predicative adjectives" (some of them also

under the heading of adverbs), since their most typical position in the

sentence is that of a predicative and they are but occasionally used as pre-

positional attributes to nouns.

Notional words signifying states and specifically used as predicatives

were first identified as a separate part of speech in the Russian language

by L. V. Shcherba and V. V. Vinogradov. The two scholars called the newly

identified part of speech the "category of state" (and, correspondingly,

separate words making up this category, "words of the category of state").

Here belong the Russian words mostly ending in -o, but also having other

suffixes: тепло, зябко, одиноко, радостно, жаль, лень, etc. Traditionally

the Russian words of the category of state were considered as constituents

of (he class of adverbs, and they are still considered as such by many

Russian schiolars.

On the analogy of the Russian "category of state", the English

qualifying a-words of the corresponding meanings were subjected to a lexico-

grammatical analysis and given the part-of-speech heading "category of

slate". This analysis was first conducted by B. A. llyish and later

continued by other linguists. The term "words of the category of state",

being rather cumbersome from the technical point of view, was later changed

into "stative words", or "statives".

The part-of-speech interpretation of the statives is not shared by all

linguists working in the domain of English, and has found both its

proponents and opponents.

Probably the most consistent and explicit exposition of the part-of-speech

interpretation of statives has been given by B. S. Khaimovich and B. I.

Rogovskaya. Their theses supporting the view in question can be summarized

as follows.

First, the statives, called by the quoted authors "adlinks" (by virtue

of their connection with link-verbs and on the analogy of the term

"adverbs"), are allegedly opposed to adjectives on a purely semantic basis,

since adjectives denote "qualities", and statives-adlinks denote "states".

Second, as different from adjectives, statives-adlinks are characterized by

the specific prefix a-. Third, they allegedly do not possess the category

of the degrees of comparison. Fourth, the combinability of statives-adlinks

is different from that of adjectives in so far as they are not used in the

pre-positional attributive function, i.e. are characterized by the absence

of the right-hand combinability with nouns.

The advanced reasons, presupposing many-sided categorial estimation of

statives, are undoubtedly serious and worthy of note. Still, a closer

consideration of the properties of the analysed lexemic set cannot but show

that, on the whole, the said reasons are hardly instrumental in proving the

main idea, i.e. in establishing the English stative as a separate part of

speech. The re-consideration of the stative on the basis of comparison with

the classical adjective inevitably discloses (lie fundamental relationship

between the two, — such relationship as should be interpreted in no other

terms than identity on the part-of-speech level, though, naturally,

providing for their distinct differentiation on the subclass level.

The first scholar who undertook this kind of re-consideration of the

lexemic status of English statives was L. S. Barkhudarov, and in our

estimation of them we essentially follow his principles, pointing out some

additional criteria of argument.

First, considering the basic meaning expressed by the stative, we

formulate it as "stative property", i.e. a kind of property of a nounal

referent. As we already know, the adjective as a whole signifies not

"quality" in the narrow sense, but "property", which is categorially

divided into "substantive quality as such" and "substantive relation". In

this respect, statives do not fundamentally differ from classical

adjectives. Moreover, common adjectives and participles in adjective-type

functions can express the same, or, more specifically, typologically the

same properties (or "qualities" in a broader sense) as are expressed by


Indeed, the main meaning types conveyed by statives are:

the psychic state of a person (afraid, ashamed, aware); the physical state

of a person (astir, afoot); the physical state of an object (afire, ablaze,

aglow); the state of an object in space (askew, awry, aslant). Meanings of

the same order are rendered by pre-positional adjectives. Cf.:

the living predecessor — the predecessor alive; eager curiosity — curiosity

agog; the burning house — the house afire; a floating raft — a raft afloat;

a half-open door — a door adjar; slanting ropes — ropes aslant; a vigilant

man — a man awake;

similar cases — cases alike; an excited crowd — a crowd astir.

It goes without saying that many other adjectives and participles convey

the meanings of various states irrespective of their analogy with statives.

Cf. such words of the order of psychic state as despondent, curious, happy,

joyful; such words of the order of human physical state as sound,

refreshed, healthy, hungry; such words of the order of activity state as

busy, functioning, active, employed, etc.

Second, turning to the combinability characteristics of statives, we see

that, though differing from those of the common adjectives in one point

negatively, they basically coincide with them in the other points. As a

matter of fact, statives are not used in attributive pre-position. but,

like adjectives, they are distinguished by the left-hand categorial

combinability both with nouns and link-verbs. Cf.:

The household was nil astir.——The household was all excited — It was

strange to see (the household active at this hour of the day.— It was

strange to see the household active at this hour of the day.

Third, analysing the functions of the stative corresponding to its

combinability patterns, we see that essentially they do not differ from the

functions of the common adjective. Namely, the two basic functions of the

stative are the predicative and the attribute. The similarity of functions

leads to the possibility of the use of a stative and a common adjective in

a homogeneous group. E.g.: Launches and barges moored to the dock were

ablaze and loud with wild sound.

True, the predominant function of the stative, as different from the

common adjective, is that of the predicative. But then, the important

structural and functional peculiarities of statives uniting them in a

distinctly separate set of lexemes cannot be disputed. What is disputed is

the status of this set in relation to the notional parts of speech, not its

existence or identification as such.

Fourth, from our point of view, it would not be quite consistent with

the actual lingual data to place the stative strictly out of the category

of comparison. As we have shown above, the category of comparison is

Страницы: 1, 2

2012 © Все права защищены
При использовании материалов активная ссылка на источник обязательна.